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Proposed legislation would put limits on college overload fees for heavy course load

TIFFANY L. PARKS
Special to the Legal News

Published: September 10, 2014

In the previous legislative session, a state senator attempted to cap higher education overload fees.

This legislative session, a state representative wants to prohibit them for course loads of up to 18 credit hours.

House Bill 593, sponsored by Rep. Anthony DeVitis, states that no state institution of higher education shall charge an overload fee to any student, so long as that student is enrolled in no more than 18 credit hours of courses per semester, or the equivalent number of credit hours per quarter as determined by the board of trustees of the institution.

An “overload fee” means a fee or increased tuition rate charged to students who enroll in courses for a total number of credit hours in excess of a full course load.

A “full course load” is defined by the board of trustees of each state institution of higher education.

“These (overload) fees are increasing Ohio students’ debt who are bearing the cost of higher education,” said DeVitis, a Republican, in a statement to lawmakers.

“Students should not be penalized for attempting to complete a degree in a timely fashion. It is my goal to help college students keep tuition costs down who are not enrolled in more than 18 credit hours of courses per semester, or the equivalent number of credit hours per quarter as determined by the board of trustees of the institution.”

In the 129th General Assembly, Sen. Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, sponsored a bill that would have capped overload fees.

That measure, Senate Bill 359 also known as the Ambition Penalty Relief Act, was crafted to cap overload fees at the marginal cost of the last full-time tuition credit hour.

For example, if a university charged $4,000 in tuition, covering up to 16 credit hours, then the university would not have been able to assess an overload fee in excess of $250 for credit hours over 16.

Under SB 359, Cleveland State University’s overload fee would have dropped from $450 to $289 and Kent State University’s would have fallen to $275 from $440.

The proposal stalled after a committee referral.

When SB 359 was introduced into the legislature, The Ohio State University did not have overload fees.

Starting with the autumn semester of 2012, OSU instituted a surcharge fee on overload enrollments.

HB 593 has gained bipartisan support from more than 20 House members.

The bill is awaiting a committee assignment.

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