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WV Introduces Fee for Taking Over 15 Hours

By Anastasiia Vorobeva
On February 21, 2017

Bill 2097 introduced to the House Education Committee.
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On February 8, the bill affecting school fees was introduced to the House Education Committee. Bill 2097 proposes a correction to the code §18 B- 10- 1 which would permit “community and technical colleges and universities to charge students half the cost of a credit for every credit taken over the fifteenth hour,” the official summary states.

    Currently, Concord University charges its undergraduate full-time students for only 12 credit hours a semester. “When we hire faculty, we hire them to teach for 12 hours and you [the student body] pay for 12 hours,” says President Kendra Boggess. “Anything above that we are giving away free. We can’t afford [to] give away things [for] free.”

    As a result of the state budget cuts, many schools in West Virginia faced a challenge in trying to figure out where to get extra funds. In 2016, the bill was introduced which proposed to give colleges the ability to charge extra fees for students who take over 16 hours. According to President Boggess, a committee of seven West Virginia University presidents “thought there must be a way that we can recover part of that cost. In many states, in many schools, you pay by credit hour.”

    The bill did not pass in 2016, but in 2017, bill 2097 was introduced. “We’ve been surprised by the bill,” says President Boggess. She notes that the introduction of the bill “doesn’t mean it would make it to the floor, doesn’t mean it would make it anywhere.”

    In the current financial situation, an extra source of revenue could be helpful. “I think all institutions in the state without exceptions have been cut over the last five years and I think any money, any revenue that is coming in would help the situation,” says Dr. Peter Viscusi, Vice President and Academic Dean at Concord.

    However, even if the bill is passed, there is no guarantee that it would be adopted at Concord and students would be charged extra for taking over 15 credits. “It is really an option for institutions if they want to do it,” says Dr. Viscusi. Also, it is hard to predict what changes the bill would go through before passing. “They amend these things, they change these things and they don’t know what the final [decision will be],” says Dr. Viscusi.

    “We first would have to see the bill. I’ve seen it, but I don’t know what is going to pass,” says President Boggess. Integration of the proposed change to the fees would take a long time to perform—first of all, the bill has to make it out of the committee and get through the Congress floor to the Senate. If the bill is passed, Concord would make its decision. “It would have to go through our board, it is a long process in between here and what they do,” says Dr. Boggess.

    Dr. Chuck Becker, Vice President for Business and Finance at Concord, thinks that charging students taking over 15 credit hours extra fees is “not so much going to be a big revenue generator. It would generate some revenue for the institution because we’re just asking to be paid something for those hours, because there is a cost associated with that.” 

    Truly, there are not that many students who take a lot of hours over 15, Dr. Becker says. “We would have go back and see what this really generates…if we were able to generate some additional revenue from this bill, it would turn around and we could afford not to raise tuition that much. All we are really trying to do is to cover our costs,” adds Dr. Becker. “Nobody wants to see students paying more for the education, because they simply can’t afford it.”

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