By Samantha Samant
As of fall 2018, students will be charged an estimated $1,000 per credit for any student taking over 18 credits a semester. Christopher Fevola, LIU’s vice president and chief financial officer, notified staff of the tuition change in an email sent on March 5. Current freshmen students were the first to be notified of the change through their promise coaches. Other students found out through word of mouth or from their department heads.
“This is an academically driven decision, not a financial one,” Lori Knapp, LIU Post’s vice president for academic affairs, said. “Long Island University is driven to support students and align practices to ensure on-time graduation while encouraging students to make the most of their experience,” Knapp said.
Many students are angered and confused by the new policy. “Currently, I’m taking 24 credits, all to do with either my major or my minors. It’s important to me because to graduate on time [spring 2019] I need to take over 18 credits a semester with my required classes plus honors classes. I need my major and both of my minors in order to go into a masters program in the field of my choice,” Cassidy Nelson, a junior musical theatre major and double minor in arts management and psychology, said.
“Twenty four credits. In this major there are only 13 people and most of our classes only occur once every few years since there are so little of us. If we want to graduate on time that means taking all the tech classes when they are offered and that often means going over on credits,” Kiely Boyington, a sophomore theatrical design and production major, said.
This modification was made to follow best academic practices and to provide a reasonable track for students to graduate in four years, according to President Kimberly Cline. “Our goal is for students to graduate in four years. However, during a recent review, it was discovered that a number of students were taking as many as 27 credits per semester.
This practice pointed to the need of better planning and a more in depth scheduling review. Carrying a double course load is not an academically sound practice. That is why the vast majority of universities have already adopted similar policies,” Cline said.
This is a standard national practice, and in our region, private institutions with similar policies include Hofstra, Adelphi, NYIT, and St. Joseph’s, according to Cline.
Some students are suggesting to plan a petition against the decision as well as possible protests, after this news erupted on the Emerging Student Theater Association (ESTA) Facebook group. Samantha Resnick, a junior musical theatre major with a minor in gender and society and an ESTA member, said they are all willing to participate in petitioning.
“If it comes down to that, and the school does not listen to our side and our stories, then yes, I will protest,” Cassidy said.
Some ESTA members have formed a Facebook page called “Tuition Initiative,” for students to join in the planning of petitions and if necessary protest (https://www.facebook.com/TuitionInitiativeLIUPost/).
The group represents students in the fight for their at fee education, according to a post made by ESTA member Aaron Cooper, a junior theatre major with a minor in film and arts management.
In order to graduate on time, students with double majors need to take approximately 18 to 21 credits per semester, according to J. Fordsman, a junior psychology and criminal justice major and assistant secretary to the office of the honors college. The same rate goes for students in the honors college as well, according to Tracy Christy, the secretary of the honors college.
Fordsman’s scholarship is for a specific major not offered at LIU. As a substitution, her scholarship allows her the exibility to double major in psychology and criminal justice to fulfill the requirement.
Fordsman never received an email about the change, nor did many upperclassmen students. She wasn’t notified until she visited her promise coach about her fall 2018 schedule. There are “communication problems across the board,” she said.
Joan Digby, director of the honors college, was unaware of the change until the Pioneer contacted her for an interview about it. Digby agreed that communication between departments and administration needs to be worked on as well. “Administrative decisions are being made without consultation of faculty; it doesn’t make any sense,” she said.
Yet, she believes that it could be a good move for students. Students need to “slow down and not put so much pressure about finishing first.”
“Enjoy all the opportunities to study, socialize and join organizations, such as the study abroad program,” Digby advised students. “I never understood why people are cramming credits. It’s humanly impossible to take 25 to 30 credits and do well,” she said.
“The flat fee covered approximately 18 credits for many years. It was only recently that the at fee covered approximately 25-30 credits per semester,” she said. According to Digby, some of her students were over-crowding, sometimes taking 35 credits a semester, so they could graduate “practically collapsing from exhaustion.”
However, Digby understands there are some special cases. “A musical theater student cannot perform without learning how to dance, as a music education major cannot conduct without taking a conducting course,” she said.
Sometimes additional hands on courses are necessary for some majors, requiring students to take more than 18 credits each semester. Digby suggested that for certain cases like double majors and more hands-on majors, some adjustments need to be made to the policy.
“This policy follows on other recent policies that follow best practices and support student success,” Knapp, the VPAA, said. “Other policies include reducing the undergraduate graduation requirement from 129 credits to 120 credits and revising the core curriculum to allow greater student exibility to explore areas of interests.”
“LIU now has a 120 credit requirement, a full course load to graduate on time is 15 credits per semester,” Knapp said. “The policy provides students with an extra class each semester, or 24 extra credits beyond what they need to graduate—within their current charges. This policy provides students with the exibility for a minor and in many cases, even a second major. Students can graduate with 144 credits with no extra charges,” Knapp said.
This change was made to improve student retention and graduation through better course management, according to President Cline. “It is not a decision to derive fiscal savings, and we are committed to working with students who have emergency situations,” she said.
“We realize that every student has different personal circumstances, it is our job to meet those needs and ensure student success. That is why we maintain emergency financial aid for students when unexpected issues arise. Students may appeal to enrollment services regarding this aid,” Knapp said.
The funds generated from the extra credit charges will go towards campus operations, according to Knapp, including $100 million in scholarship funds.