Full-time status reformed

In line with a federal policy, the university redefined course completion provisions.

Temple has responded to a federal mandate requiring universities to base financial eligibility on percentages of classes completed, rather than the previous standard based on number of credit hours.

The rule was enacted as part of a new federal government policy that shifts emphasis to students completing courses they take, rather than completing a minimum number of credits. Credits that are failed, withdrawn from or marked incomplete will be tallied against the completion of credits.

Under the old rules, students receiving financial aid under a full-time status needed to complete 12 credit hours per semester.

The new approach toward financial aid allows universities to determine a certain percentage of classes students need to complete in order to receive aid. Temple administration has set the bar at 80 percent, based on a review of academic trends within the university.

“When we got the directive from the feds that this was a new rule that they were changing, we went back and took a look at our students, at our student body, and to see what the pattern was, and the 80 percent was very, very doable for most of our students,” said William Black, senior vice provost for enrollment management.

In order to receive financial aid, students enrolled as a part-time student will also have to complete 80 percent of the classes they sign up for at the beginning of each semester.

The new system was set up by the government, with the intent of keeping students focused on completing the work they have signed up for, and graduating on time with the right amount of credits.

Penalties for withdrawing from or failing a large credit course will have a greater effect on students’ financial aid eligibility than withdrawing a course worth only two or three credits.

During the Spring 2011 semester, statistics from the Department of Institutional Research, 123,093 undergraduate grades were recorded. Of those recorded, 4,687 students, or 3.8 percent, were marked with an incomplete or withdrawal.

“This is a financial incentive to keep students on a four year track to graduation,” Peter Jones, senior vice provost for undergraduate studies, said. “I think the goal is a laudable goal, trying to get students to graduate on time, part of it is because the want to avoid the increase in debts that students have when they leave college, but part of that is because students are taking five or six or more years to graduate.”

Students will have the entire academic year, including summers, to complete 80 percent of their courses. If a student fails to reach the 80 percent during the fall semester, he or she will have the spring and summer semesters to complete the number of courses they need.

Transfer students enrolled at the university will transfer completed credits from their old schools that can count towards achieving the 80 percent minimum, however uncompleted credits will not be transferred.

Matthew Kerr, a freshman education and history major, said he thought the new policy was fair.

Matthew Mahan, a freshman strategic and organizational communications major, said the policy was fair in that it gives students a full year to complete 80 percent of their courses.

“I think anybody can have rough semester, as long as you have that second semester to make up for it, then it is a fair policy,” Mahan said.

John Moritz can be reached at john.moritz@temple.edu.

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