Geneva lowers credit limit
Geneva College has lowered the maximum credits students can take without being charged extra. Previously, students could take a maximum of 20 credits, with anything over 20 being charged per-credit. Now, students wishing to take more than 18 credits must pay $930 for each credit over, or alternatively go through an appeal process in order to be exempt from the extra fee.
The 20-credit policy was relatively new, put in place in 2015 to replace a policy which restricted students to only 17 credits. At the time, there were issues occurring because some credits, which put students over 17, still counted as part of a full-time load, and some did not, which complicated the billing process.
Also, Geneva was looking at implementing 3+1 programs, which would require students to take more credits. However, at the time Geneva did not have a good way of billing by program. The 20-credit policy was created then to address these complications and accommodate these goals.
Upon implementation, the new policy caused some faculty to express concern.
“They felt that students who enrolled in 20 credits may struggle,” said Dr. Melinda Stephens, provost and chief academic officer at Geneva. “Or, even if [students] were capable of doing it, it wasn’t good for their academic development to be enrolled in so many classes.”
This, along with the implementation of new billing policies which allow certain programs to be billed separately, led to the recent change to a maximum of 18 credits.
“We saw our freshman, sophomore, and junior retention rates drop, and the health and wellness center reported that the number of students that they are dealing with who have anxiety is at a seven-year high,” said Stephens.
Students have expressed concern over this recent change.
Senior Josh Duffie said, “I hope Geneva is making the right decision for their students, but it seems so sudden and out-of-the-blue. For the kids that are freshmen now, who either struggled or decided to change their major, I think they should still be able to graduate in four years even if that means taking 20 credits.”
Students were also upset about how late in the semester the policy was announced.
“This was not ideal,” Stephens said. “Lots of things got in the way of us getting this policy out as quickly as we wanted. Ideally, it would have gone out in January or February.”
Other related concerns were voiced by students who had enrolled at Geneva under the 20-credit policy with a double-major that requires taking 19-20 credits per semester. For this reason, an appeal process was put in place. While Stephens said Geneva did not want to grandfather everyone into the 20-credit policy because this would not help with issues of financial aid eligibility and emotional stress, students who entered with a double-major can appeal in order to be exempt from the $930 fee.
Jarron Mihoci, a sophomore double-major in civil engineering and applied mathematics, recently ran into this problem. Mihoci was led to Geneva in part because of the 20-credit policy, with the intent to take a high number of credits each semester. Mihoci appealed and was approved for the exemption.
The audit-fee is also eligible to be waived for students who wish for their participation in marching band and athletics to appear on their transcripts without having to count those extra curriculars as credit.
A student-led petititon to reverse this policy has also been started by students on change.org. It currently has over 670 signatures.
“I appreciate the students’ initiative—I think it is great that they want to have their voices heard, and they got organized to do that,” said Stephens. “But there are too many other compelling reasons for the policy group that we are unlikely to make a change other than what we have in place with the appeal process.”
Students who wish to appeal should speak with their advisors to work out a plan of study.