Acceleration charges eliminated
As of this summer, acceleration charges will no longer apply to students who plan on graduating in fewer than eight semesters. The charges, which only applied to students who had formally requested and been given permission to graduate in fewer than eight semesters, mandated that students graduating early were charged one-fifth of the semester's tuition for each course taken beyond the expected load of four credits. At the current tuition rate of $15,718 per semester, that would add up to just under $4,000 for every credit.
“I probably would have graduated early anyway, and just came up with the money, but I'm really glad that now I don't have to,” said Victor Vazquez ’06, who hopes to graduate in less than eight semesters.
“[Acceleration charges] started at a time when the idea was to provide a disincentive for finishing early,” said Billy Weitzer, Senior Associate Provost and Dean of Continuing Studies.
Acceleration charges were put into effect in 1974, when only four semesters of residency at Wesleyan were required, according to Weitzer.
“When Peter [Patton, Interim Dean of the College] and I stepped in we were looking at the entire organization with fresh eyes,” Weitzer said. “We found that [acceleration charges] really were built upon a disincentive. We decided that they are too punitive, and that we wanted to stop them.”
Patton and Weitzer presented the idea to the President's staff meeting this summer, conferred with Marcia Bromberg, Vice President of Finance and Administration and found that the whole Administration agreed on the issue, Weitzer said.
According to Weitzer, no one had ever specifically complained about the charges, but people often asked what the charges were and why they were in place.
“I can't believe we've had the policy for so long already. It punishes students who try to save money or move on early,” said Justin Rogers ’05.
Over the past five years, approximately ten students per year have paid the acceleration charges.
According to Weitzer, it is impossible to estimate the overall financial impact of the removal of the costs. He believes the new policy will not change the pattern of attendance or enrollment at Wesleyan.
“We aim to send a message encouraging students to have a complete Wesleyan experience. If the elimination of acceleration fees causes some change where students are not taking full advantage of Wesleyan, we will have to review this and other policy options,” he said.
“I think it's great. This is giving more people a chance to graduate early and save money,” said Amanda Brown ’05.
In 2000 the administration changed the residency requirement from four to six semesters, which altered the background against which acceleration charges were evaluated, according to Weitzer.
“Taken in isolation, people could see this change as having possible negative consequences,” Weitzer said, “but not when you look at the academic regulations as a whole package.”