By Laura Butler

Last semester, the university announced a plan to implement a course overload fee into the price of tuition for the 2009 spring semester. Students taking more than 16.5 credit hours would have to pay a “surcharge” for each additional credit hour they chose to take. At the time the plan was proposed, the surcharge fee had not yet been determined. However, for the time being, students can now expect to add on $0 for each additional credit hour.

That’s right. The university has decided not to initiate the additional tuition increase this year and send the plan back to the drawing board.

Deborah Newsom, vice president for Financial Affairs, said the campus-wide tuition increase for all students and muddy guidelines were the main reasons for revoking the course overload fees.

“Tuition was already going up, and there was a lack of clear communication even on the university’s side about the overload fees and confusion bubbled up from that miscommunication,” Newsom said.

“It seemed best to take if off the table until we could gather more information.”

The university will be evaluating this year’s drop/add activity to determine how many students actually stay enrolled in all the classes they initially register for.

Newsom said each year a significant amount of students register for 18 hours or more and usually drop a class or two after the first few weeks, causing many classes to become much smaller.

This fluctuation means the university hires too many professors to cover a large number of unnecessary class sessions.

Eastern ends up paying two professors to teach classes of 12 students each, instead of paying one professor to teach a class of 24, Newsom said.

And that can’t happen-especially when the university is cutting corners everywhere else.

The course overload fees were established to encourage students to register only for the classes they need to take.

“By no means do we want to discourage students who wish to take a larger course load from doing so and we’re going to work on finding a better solution,” Newsom said.

Newsom said the university is still looking for a way to keep class registration and faculty hiring more cost-effective.

“We’ve done some research and Northern, Western, and Morehead have instituted similar overload policies or have their students pay tuition per credit hour, which is also something we’re looking into,” she said.

Newsom said she believes the course overload fees can be implemented effectively after further consideration and planning.

“We’re going to work on this some more because in the end, any time we can save money through efficiency while maintaining academic quality, it’s a win-win for everyone.