Recently the Office of Finance and Administration (OFA) failed to effectively notify students about significant changes to overload credit fee policy.
Last spring the cap for overload credits was lowered from 18 to 17.1 credits meaning any student taking over 17 credits faces a fee of $252 per credit in addition to their regular tuition fees.
While 252 bucks may not be a lot of money to OFA, it is a lot of money to students who are already deeply in debt. It was insensitive and irresponsible to take so few measures to promote the change to students.
According to Stacy Pearson, vice president of finance and administration, the changes to the policy were posted to the OFA website so the information was all in one place.
Sure, having information all in one place makes sense. But in this case it is a place students hardly ever visit once they are enrolled and assume they know the rate they are going to be asked to pay.
There isn’t even any real assurance incoming freshmen will see the overload credit fees since those fees are not posted on the cost of attendance portion of the university’s website.
Chelsie Burgess is a freshmen this year studying biology who was told by an orientation leader not to exceed 17 credits on account of the fee. “I was going through the orientation at BSU and I was signing up for classes and I just asked because I was planning on taking 18 (credits) my first semester and 16 my second semester just cause I wanted it to kind of be harder than easier. But my orientation leader said don’t do that because there is a cap at 17 now. Thankfully if I take 17 both semesters it works out, but still, the idea that you have to pay more to get the same amount of credits had I come here a year earlier? It’s lame,” Burgess said.
New students who would have enrolled and gone through the runs of new student orientation and first-time financial aid applications are probably the only students who would have noticed the change to the fees if at all.
But returning students would have had no way of knowing—short of checking the OFA website everyday for changes—they faced a fee of $252 per-credit if they exceeded the recently lowered overload cap. This is a fee that could add up very quickly for students and make it impossible to exceed the full-time credit load for some.
“If they had capped it at 16 (credits) or I needed to take 18, I would be very upset,” Burgess said. “252 dollars is a lot of money, and most classes are 3-credit classes.”
If a student were to take just one class over the 17-credit limit they would be facing up to $756 in addition to the regular cost of attendance.
This is not a small amount of money and it is going to have an impact on students who are taking those overload classes trying to graduate.
The Office of Finance and Administration was contacted several times to learn if anything was done beyond posting to their website but refused multiple times to address concerns raised by the Arbiter.
In an email exchange with The Arbiter writers earlier this month regarding the fee change is not noted that any measures were taken to notify returning students of the fee change other than to post the changes to the Finance and
It is also noted the overload fee had no correlation with a recent five percent tuition increase which took effect this fall.
With the methods available to the university and the staff of the OFA, there is no excuse for the lack of notification to the student body.
It would have taken very little effort to start a simple email campaign, a campus news update or a notification on BroncoWeb notifying students of a change which could very easily affect those who have already been enrolled and make them aware of a change which could be very expensive.
This lack of effort from Finance and Administration demonstrates a lack of sensitivity to financial strain affecting many students and a lack of commitment to the student body.
In email correspondence with The Arbiter earlier this month, OFA said they are planning on talking to the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) to review future options for overload credit fees.
Hopefully those talks will include plans to properly notify students about changes to tuition and fees.