By Maggie LaFleur

Tuition, housing, food and books are no longer the only items students might see on their bills from the university. Thanks to a new policy passed this semester, students’ pockets might also feel lighter if they decide to drop a class from their schedules after the fourth week of the semester.Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Janna Vice sent an e-mail earlier this month informing students of the new class drop/withdraw fee.

With the new drop fee students have the first four weeks of the semester to decide whether they want to make the commitment to the class. After the fourth week, the “drop” application on EKU Direct will be shut down and students will be unable to withdraw from full semester classes this way. Instead, they must have a written excuse from the class instructor and pay a fee of $50 per credit hour ($150 for a three credit hour class).

“The drop fee is somewhat of a tough-love initiative to help students sign up only for the classes that they intend to take and to complete,” Vice said.

She made it clear that the university did not go into this process lightly. They had representatives from all the relevant branches of the university, including student government, to participate in deciding how to implement the drop fee.

“Students need to be dedicated to their success in the class,” Eastern Registrar Tina Davis said. “They need to make the decision early to stay with the class. They need to believe that they will succeed in the class and work to make that belief a reality.”

The fact that students will no longer be able to drop a course online is a very important factor as well.

Davis said requiring a written excuse from the instructor to drop a class will drive students to sit down and have a conversation with their instructor about their success in the class and why they may feel the need to drop it.

While university officials say the policy was created with students’ best interests in mind, students are expressing mixed feelings about the change.

“If the federal and state government gave more support for funding the school, then they [Eastern] wouldn’t have to come up with ways like this to get more money,” said senior criminal justice major Autumn Maynard.

Maynard said she once had to drop an astronomy class, although she tried everything she could to succeed in the class.

“We are already gouged for the price of books and food on campus. Eastern sees that they can charge us to drop a class because no matter what we will pay it if we have to. It’s just a big business, that’s all it is,” Maynard said.

In response to students who may have a negative outlook on the drop fee, Vice suggests signing up for a manageable course load that students think they can complete.

“Certainly, there are extenuating circumstances that might cause the student to not do well and we always [allow] the student to bring their case forward and to explain what those circumstances are,” Vice said. “In that case the university will be fair, and if appropriate, would wave the fee.”

She also said she does not see the new policy as a moneymaking proposition because it discourages students from dropping class, therefore there would be less money generated from the fee.

“The fee was set strategically with the intent that it’s significant enough to cause a student to think about dropping, but it is not so large a fee compared to the tuition that it would be impossible,” Vice said. “One of our primary goals for the university is student success and students attending class is one way to ensure student success.