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Oct. 7, 2014

Credit conversion to affect school budget

By Melanie Morris

The 4-to-3 credit conversion has created mixed results throughout campus. Students are experiencing many changes: the cutting of class time, rearranging schedules and eliminating time between classes.

The amount of credits students are taking per semester has also changed with the conversion. According to Deirdre Mageean, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Cleveland State University, the amount of credits full-time students are taking has dropped from an average of 14.8 to 14.29 credit hours and from an average of 7.03 to 6.82 credit hours for part-time students.

“You notice the impact more with part-time students because they pay per [credit] hour,” Mageean said.

Students taking fewer credits means less money for the university. Even though Mageean said students are still taking the same, if not a larger course load, the difference in credits per semester still contributes to how much money Cleveland State collects.

According to John Soeder, CSU Spokesman, Cleveland State has three separate budgets — the operating budget, the general fee budget and auxiliary enterprises.

The operating budget will be falling short for the summer and fall 2014 semesters.

“In comparison to our budget plan for tuition revenue, we are approximately $600,000 below [our budget],” Soeder said. “The operating budget provides the funding for the instructional and administrative operations of the university. The primary sources of funds for this budget are student tuition and fees and subsidy funding from the state of Ohio.”

The 4-to-3 credit conversion is not the entire cause of the failing budget, but it does contribute to this disparity. Before the conversion, taking four, four-credit-hour courses would be 16 credit hours. Now, four, three-credit hour courses is only 12 credit hours. However, the university was prepared for this to happen.

“We built in a budget drop in anticipation of the credit conversion,” Mageean said.

Though worrisome, students this year should not be affected by the deficit.

“CSU should be able to manage the shortfall within the parameters of its existing budget,” Soeder said.

In addition, the tuition for the fiscal year of 2015 has been increased by 2 percent. Although this will help with the lack of money from the credit conversion, Soeder said many other factors go in to deciding a tuition increase, including enrollment and costs of operation.

Aside from the budget, the 4:3 conversion has produced several advantages. Mageean said no one knew how it would all play out, but CSU is relatively satisfied with the outcome.

“One benefit we were really pleased with is the number of returning students compared to last year,” Mageean said.

She said the advising sessions that students were encouraged to attend before the conversion appeared to have helped incredibly.