Dec 092003
 
Authors: Brandon Purdum

Over the past five years, full-time undergraduate student

enrollment at CSU has increased by more than 2,000 students. During

the same period, however, part-time undergraduate enrollment has

dropped by nearly 200 students, from 2,100 in the fall semester of

1999 to 1,915 in fall 2003.

According to the Office of Budgets and Institutional Analysis,

part-time enrollees made up 7.6 percent of the total CSU

undergraduate population in the fall 2003 semester, whereas that

number was 9.2 percent in fall 1999.

Similarly, part-time undergraduate enrollment, which consists of

any student registered for six to 11 credits, has experienced a

decline in the spring semesters as well, dropping from 10.1 percent

of the total population in 1999 to 8.7 percent in 2003.

“I would venture to guess that the high cost of attending school

is a big factor for students to go part-time and still be able to

work and make money to pay for school,” said JoAnn Cornell, career

counselor for the College of Liberal Arts. “Many students I’ve

talked with…are concerned about the amount of loans many of them

have taken out to finish school and are concerned with their jobs

out of school and being able to pay off those loans.”

Governmental involvement may have played a part in the recent

decline, though it seems unlikely, Cornell said.

“There has been legislation pushing students to finish in four

years, I believe because the policy-makers believe it costs too

much for students to go more than five years,” Cornell said.

“However, from the perspective of working with students, that push

is difficult, given students might change majors in their college

careers, other circumstances…or have financial concerns that

might have to draw them out of school.”

An increase in the unemployment rate, coupled with a perceived

decline of job security, might contribute to the part-time

enrollment trend.

“It is the main factor,” said Ronnie Phillips, chairman of the

Department of Economics. “(The decline) will continue as long as

the economy does not create new jobs, probably for one to two more

years.”

Tuition costs may also have an impact on the declining

proportion of part-time students. At CSU, anybody registered for

nine credit hours or more pays the same tuition rate, which, when

added to student fees, comes out to about $1,900 for residents and

$7,100 for non-residents.

“If you take 18 credit hours you pay the same as if you take

nine credit hours,” said Gerald Bomotti, vice president of

Administrative Services. “One could argue that taking at least 18

credit hours per semester would allow you to finish your degree in

no more than seven semesters, or three-and-a-half years. Therefore,

you end up paying the least amount per credit hour for the degree,

and you get out early and start working in your profession.”

Most undergraduate students must fulfill a 120 credit-hour

requirement to earn a degree.

If a resident student chose to complete this requirement by

taking 9 credit hours per semester, it would take over 13

semesters, or nearly six and a half years, spending close to

$19,000 in tuition costs and student fees.

A student who registers for 18 credit hours per semester would

graduate in seven semesters, or three and a half years, at a cost

of less than $10,200, saving nearly $8,800.

In addition, undergraduates must register for 12 or more credit

hours to qualify for full federal financial aid programs. Students

enrolled with less than 12 credits only qualify for partial

financial aid, whereas those with six or less are ineligible for

any financial assistance.

A part-time schedule, however, can still be beneficial,

depending on a student’s particular situation.

“It is no doubt dependent upon the individual circumstances of

the student involved,” Bomotti said. “Some students must work a

considerable amount of time and/or there are specific family or

personal issues involved. Therefore, part-time attendance is

appropriate.”

Gene Frizzelle, who graduated from CSU in 2001, chose to switch

from a full schedule to a part-time class load during his last

semester. The reasons for changing were to put more time into his

long-term goal, he said.

“I wanted to spend more time doing work finding a steady job and

to put more effort into important stuff,” Frizzelle said. “I wanted

to focus more on my career.”

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