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Miami University implements excess credit hour fee

Ada Bright, a first-year social work major, wanted to make the most of her time at Miami. When she went to register for classes for the upcoming spring term, though, she learned that she would be charged if she enrolled in more than 18 credit hours.

Bright chose not to register for a lab accompanying one of her classes to avoid paying the fee. This is the predicament that future Miami students face.

Students in the 2027 graduating class and younger will be charged an overload fee if they exceed 18 credit hours when registering for classes. Going forward, this means that for 19 or more credit hours, these students will now have to pay more than $600 per additional hour and $300 for each half-credit hour.

The Board of Trustees voted on this decision over the summer. The fee went into place this fall for the class of 2027 and future students.

Miami Provost Elizabeth Mullenix said this is something that has been discussed over the last three years.

“Miami is the only public university in the state that does not charge for excess credit hours over 18,” Mullenix said. “Ohio University [charges for exceeding] 20 credit hours.” 

Mullenix explained that the university’s current budget shortfalls also played a role in this decision. The significant loss of revenue that the university experienced during the pandemic and the decreased number of international students at Miami has caused challenges for budgeting.

“Our state subsidy has not changed in 25 years,” Mullenix said. “So the money that we get from the state of Ohio has not kept up with inflation.”

As the university started considering this change, data was looked at over five years of students from the financial years of 2018-22. This data allowed the university to see how many students took advantage of additional credit hours, how many people the fee would have impacted and what kind of additional revenue Miami could see.

Mullenix explained that the data showed that over four years, only 4% of Miami students would be affected by the fee. 

“Averaged over four years, if 4% of students took more than 18 credit hours, we would see an additional revenue of $2 million, that was our estimate,” Mullenix said.

This change is one that Rachel Dela Cruz, a first-year majoring in sociology, was unaware of until her roommate mistakenly got charged for the fee.

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“Her math class … was supposed to be zero credit hours, but it said in her degree audit that it was the full three,” Dela Cruz said. “So she was at 19 [credit hours], and a $1,000 charge was on her bursar.”

Though Dela Cruz’s roommate was able to get the charge removed, the change was still surprising to first-year students. Dela Cruz doesn’t recall the fee being emphasized at orientation or during her meetings with her academic adviser. 

Mullenix said the fee was discussed at orientation and hopes more students will become aware of the overload fee.

This decision only impacts first-year students due to Miami's tuition promise, which ensures tuition and fees will be held constant over students' four years at the university.

Additionally, Pell-Grant-eligible students will be able to apply for help waiving the overload fee.

Over the next four years, Mullenix predicts the university will start to see a change in behavior among Miami students, as the majority of those taking excess hours were seniors.

“We anticipate that behavior will change so that students will sort of take that sixth class spread out through their four years as opposed to just their senior year,” Mullenix said.

Bright said that this decision seemed to have good intentions but took the wrong approach.

“I think there is some logic behind this not wanting students to overload themselves,” Bright said. “But I think that putting the limit at 18 is too low if that’s what they’re concerned about. It feels like they are more concerned about losing out on money than on their students' well-being.”