UW regents to consider eliminating excess credit surcharge

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The University of Wisconsin System regents are set to consider eliminating a pricey student surcharge for accumulating too many credits across most system campuses.

The regents are scheduled to consider rescinding the policy on all system campuses except UW-Madison during a meeting Thursday at UW-Stout. UW-Madison officials would be allowed to their own policy on excess credits.

The regents established a policy in 2002 that calls for imposing a surcharge on students who accumulate 165 credits or 30 credits more than required to graduate in their program, whichever is greater. The surcharge is equal to 100 percent of resident tuition. The policy evolved from a failed state budget provision designed to help the system deal with a budget shortfall.

The surcharge generated $271,875 in revenue for the system between 2019 and 2021. The most recent data on graduations from 2019-20 found 1,257 undergraduates paid the surcharge, a decline of 34% since the fee was instituted.

But system staff wrote in a memo to regents that a 2018 study found the surcharges don’t push students to graduate faster and increase student debt, hurting first-generation and low-income students. The memo notes, however, that a small number of UW-Madison students continue to accumulate a high number of credits without graduating and that school’s leaders believe the surcharge has value as an incentive to speed graduation.

A number of other states have similar excess credit fees, including Florida, Utah and Virginia. Republican legislators in North Carolina led a successful push to rescind that state’s fee in 2019.

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