California State University wants super seniors to pay hefty fees


California State University wants super seniors to pay hefty fees, make room for new students

Published November 10, 2012
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – They’re called super seniors, and they can be found on nearly every college campus in America.

These veteran undergraduates have amassed many more units — and taken many more classes — than they need to earn a degree, with college careers that can stretch well beyond the traditional four years.

At California State University, the nation’s largest four-year college system, school administrators say enough is enough. They say the 23-campus system can no longer afford to let students linger so long without collecting their diplomas.

After gentler efforts to prod super seniors toward graduation, Cal State officials want to start charging hefty fees that could almost triple the cost for students who have completed five years of full-time undergraduate work.

The proposed fee — like those adopted in several other states — is aimed at encouraging students to finish their degrees faster and make room for new undergrads in an era of scarce resources. Deep budget cuts over the past four years have forced CSU to sharply raise tuition, cut academic programs and turn away tens of thousands of qualified students.

“If we can graduate more students, we can create more capacity to enroll more students,” said Eric Forbes, the system’s assistant vice chancellor for student academic services. “It’s about access and creating more efficiency in the system.”

But the idea doesn’t sit well with students who say they would be punished for switching majors, adding a major or minor or getting bad academic advice. They complain that budget cuts have made it harder to get classes they need, so many students take courses they don’t need just to keep their financial aid.

“Sometimes through no fault of their own, students are forced into being super seniors,” said David Allison, president of the California State Student Association. “It could harm individuals who change their majors as they figure out what they want to do with their lives.”

I have mixed feelings about such things. There are many students in such situations due to circumstances beyond their control. When I was in college, I would have been considered a super senior. The only provision in their proposal that would have helped me was basing it on the number classes/units taken. I never failed a class and didn’t take un-needed electives except for one in my very last semester to keep me above the 12 credit hour mark–and then I took Spanish pass/faill. I had taken two years of Spanish in HS and didn’t need another busy work class while finishing my senior design project.

After my first two years of college, I ran out of money. My father naively thought that the Democrats that he voted for would send me so, he made no plans for my education (not that I expected him to either). It took 3 years to work and save enough to start again. For the remaining 3 years, I worked full-time and went to school full-time (12+ credit hours per semester). I did so while taking higher level engineering, math, and science courses. Not looking for praise but emphasizing the fact that I wasn’t just taking advantage of the system and being a professional student.

While I understand such measures to keep students moving through the system and making openings for new students, the ones that are working the hardest on their own are usually the ones that get screwed. CA, being the commie state that it is, would probably love to punish such self-movitated people. I can tell you that my outlook on life was much more Conservative after my college experience. I learned the hard way that if you want something bad enough, you will take responsibility and do what it takes to achieve such a goal.

Perhaps this could back lash on CA. I was raised to be a good and naive Democrat. My life experience, due to lack of government help, made me much more Conservative.

However, we now have half of our population that think that I am at my place in society through deceit, preference, and/or dumb luck and they want to take it from me because they do not have the intestinal fortitude to achieve such things on their own.


The People’s Republik of Kalifornia has to be the most back-asswards State in the country and their idiot politicians are blind to it all.

And it’s sad when Grey Davis was a better Gov than Arnold… now THAT’s sad.

It is indeed a socialist paradise.


There are many older people who take classes for various reasons. Some want to update their skills or learn something new. Not all courses have to be associated with earning an associate or Bachelor degree.

I have read of some seniors who have earned degrees even though they were to old to actually use that degree for anything but the satisfaction of knowing that their mental acuity was up to the task. I applaud them.


All good points CL…you’ve changed my opinion on this one.
Probably a more nuanced approach towards individual situations is called for.


Like I said, the one provision in my favor would have been basing it on the number of classes taken. I never changed my major. I knew what I wanted to do from the end of my junior year in HS. However, it’s not uncommon for students to change majors for legitimate reasons. Young people not really knowing what they want to do as the leave HS is not a new thing.

The more I think about it, I hope that CA does this to their students. They will just anger them and/or turn them into Conservatives.


There are a couple of broad classes of 5-year (and more) men and women in this. There are the professional students who are the nominal targets of this. And there are students who change majors, extending their time and those who were not able to get classes required to graduate due to CSU either not scheduling the class(es) or not enough seats for the class(es) every semester. My son graduated from a CSU, and he had several friends who had to take an extra semester or two because one or more classes they needed were not available to be taken. And that inability to get the class(es) cost them thousands of dollars. They might have avoided the problem had they front-loaded required Gen-Ed classes and classes required for their major, leaving electives for their last semester or two, but that would require knowing CSU would @#$% them over two or three years before CSU started doing it. Or at least a “Be prepared” attitude (which my son, an Eagle Scout, had).


That was my experience, also, in college in Illinois. I wound up having to take “flute” during my last trimester. Utterly ridiculous especially given that I had to go purchase a flute which I never used after that class.