Christian Gonzalez/ Staff Writer
At FIU, students are charged extra for each credit hour taken in excess of the total required for completion of their degree. This is called the excess credit surcharge (ECS), which is mandated by Florida law and applies only to public universities.
To finish a degree, students must complete 120 credit-hours, but they are permitted to take an additional 12 credits without incurring additional fees. The excess credit surcharge essentially imposes a fine on students after 133 credits.
When I first arrived at FIU, I thought the ECS was an abomination, some sinister plot concocted by the powers-that-be at the governor’s office. It seemed like an attempt to prevent students from pursuing their intellectual curiosities.
Why, I thought, would the government create a financial barrier for students who want to take more courses and better educate themselves?
However, after careful reflection and reading, the ECS began to seem like an appropriate and necessary policy.
First, FIU provides several exceptions to the “cap” of 132 credits. For example, adding another major increases the cap by the amount of credits the major requires — usually around 30. Certificate programs, which are usually around 18 credits, are also exempted from the ECS.
Thus, double majoring lets students take up to 150 credits without penalty.
The surcharge doesn’t prevent students from pursuing their academic interests, however eclectic.
Further, the ECS puts a reasonable disincentive on wasteful spending. Since the government of Florida funds public universities, the ECS is a reasonable fine for spending an unnecessary amount of time taking courses past what a degree requires.
In a world of limited resources, the state is right to be concerned about students taking too long before joining the labor force.
Finally, from a rhetorical perspective, the ECS encourages students to graduate rather than linger too long at the university.
With its exemptions and nuances, the excess credit surcharge is a necessary policy. It encourages students to graduate even as exceptions are made to provide students with the freedom to pursue their intellectual curiosities.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
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