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16-unit cap on fall enrollment has students scrambling

By | May 01, 2012 | News

Attempting to add more than 16 units in Fresno State’s “online student”
center will see an error message preventing them from adding additional
classes.
My Fresno State screenshot

Students are feeling the crunch after the CSU Chancellor’s Office announced in March that due to budget cuts, all 23 CSU’s would have to implement a unit cap on fall enrollment.

“The Full Time Equivalent Student (FTES) calculation for CSU is 15 units,” said Erik Fallis, media relations specialist at the Chancellor’s Office. “This is what we have to base our limited budget on.”

Fresno State has decided to set its cap at 16 units, one unit above the FTES and allowed by the Chancellor. State funding for education is based on the FTES formula, which is a legislative standard. As the CSU system has continued to suffer cuts in state funding, it has had to tighten enrollment rules to make sure that each student can make use of limited resources.

Ryan Johnson, a junior construction management student, is a returning student after doing military service overseas.  He’s on the GI bill, but still has to take out student loans to make up the difference.

“I’m looking at probably what is being called a ‘super senior’ and probably having to go an extra semester next year,” Johnson said.

Johnson will have to do an internship next year and said he wonders how the limits to enrollment will affect his program.

“I don’t think it’s fair for students,” Johnson said. “Sometimes they only offer one class for students in one semester. What if you’re only one class away from graduating? What if you’re a senior and you need 18 units? They’re not going to allow you to take that class?”

Fresno State students have been limited to an initial enrollment maximum of 16 units for at least two years now since 2010. However, until this registration period, the 16-unit cap was lifted after the early-registration period ends in August.

Dean of undergraduate studies Dennis Nef is looking over the possible exceptions to the 16-unit cap.

“Under consideration is that we allow seniors who can prove they need to go above the cap in order to graduate in the fall,” Nef said. “And we are even looking at recommending that seniors be allowed to go above the cap for both fall and spring if needed.”

Nef is also considering letting certain high-unit majors receive waivers to the 16-unit cap. An example is engineering students like Johnson.  Nef will present his recommendations to Fresno State President John Welty, who will make a final decision sometime this summer.

For first and second-year students, the cap may not be as critical as it could be for juniors and seniors. Sources in Joyal Administration point out, off-the-record, that a 16-unit cap may actually help freshmen to make it through that first difficult year. By reducing some lower-division general education classes it permits each freshman to more easily find space in the required classes. It also prevents freshmen from taking too many classes, which may be overwhelming to a student fresh to the university.

But enrollment caps are only some of the problems that have come from the shrinking funds allotted for colleges in California. Lack of teachers and class cancellations left Spanish major Brenda Noriega short three classes, pushing her into “super senior” status: forced to go one extra semester in order to get the bachelor’s degree.

“Because of the budget, they cut some of my graduation classes,” Noriega said. “So I had to postpone my graduation for next year.”

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2 Responses to 16-unit cap on fall enrollment has students scrambling

  1. John says:

    The information here is very useful for the new comers of the college. One must read this article to gain some knowledge.

  2. Courtney Clyde says:

    I appreciate the fact that they are reviewing this limitation and the devastating impact it has on some of us students who are working towards graduation in another few semesters and the impact it has on schedule and graduation timeline. I hope that waivers will be allowed for circumstances that require a few extra units above the cap.

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