Full-time tuition should not apply to students taking 12 credit hours

Full-time tuition should not apply to students taking 12 credit hours

Libby Sykes, Contributing Writer

When I dropped one of my pre-registered courses within the add/drop period of my senior spring, I expected to get a refund for my unused credits. I was taken aback when the registrar replied to my complaint that I was already at what was considered a full course load. This happened to be because of a one-credit music course that put my total at 13 credits, but full-time tuition also applies to students only taking three 4-credit courses. With part-time tuition at only less than 12 credit hours per semester and most academic courses at 4-credit hours, Macalester can charge students for an extra course they are not enrolled in. Macalester needs to revise the full-time policy of 12-18 credit hour definition to charge each individual credit at a fixed rate and be more flexible with students’ schedules, or find another way to accommodate students taking only three courses.

College is already expensive. If Macalester allowed for a three-course, 12-credit load to be considered part-time, then students would not have to pay for the full extra course factored into full time payment. Some students may use the full-time course load possibilities to the best of their ability and get 18 credit hours every semester, which I applaud them for, but that does not mean other students can necessarily do so based on their course load, internships, jobs or extracurricular activities. The wide variability in how students use their time means that many students’ extra credits and possible resources could be going to waste. 

This policy of at least 12 credits per semester for full-time undergraduate enrollment is a standard at many U.S. universities for financial aid purposes, but that does not mean a private liberal arts college like Macalester has to be one of them. On top of that, Macalester, like other U.S. higher-ed institutions, has a tuition rate twice that of other industrialized countries. A standardized, unpermissive, one-size-fits-all tuition framework does not work at Macalester, where we are devoted to internationalism, academic excellence and community engagement. With these goals in mind, a more exact tuition rate should be put in place. Mac is known to initiate progressive policies for the benefit of its students in the past, and moving forward with a more accommodating billing policy should be one of them.

There are many other factors at play in full-time college participation. Many extracurricular activities at Mac require a full-time course load, such as varsity sports, and students may want to take courses off because of high school courses counted on their transcripts. Internship opportunities are also counted as credit at Macalester, which gets in the way of students’ future steps to an even greater extent if they want to reduce their credits charged. There is no justification for seniors in their second semester having to pay full price for courses they are not taking, especially when transitioning to other internships and jobs in their career path. The systemic course structure for a U.S. four-year degree notwithstanding, Macalester should not be unduly punishing students for jumping ahead from college life.