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Regents: Students need to pick major, pursue goal

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The state board of regents approved a new policy Monday allowing Utah universities to charge students more when they accumulate more credits than are needed to graduate.

Students already pay a surcharge of double the current tuition rate when they accumulate credits exceeding 135 percent of the number needed to graduate.

Under the new policy, that threshold is reduced to 125 percent of the number of credits needed to graduate. The goal is to increase the number of students who complete their degrees and certificates in a timely manner.

The policy change is in response to a legislative audit in 2011, which found that the existing excess credit hour policy is vague and seldom applies. The revised policy requires schools to develop a process for notifying students that the surcharge may be implemented and clarifies how the number of credits needed for graduation is determined, the board said in a statement.

The policy allows for additional credits without a surcharge in some cases, such as for double majors, advanced placement credits, and credits required for employment.

"Excess credit hours is not a problem for the vast majority of students," said Higher Education Commissioner Dave Buhler. "However, the board does want to encourage students to focus their efforts and decide on a major as soon as is practical and then move toward that goal."

The move also stems from a larger goal in Utah to have 66 percent of adult residents have a higher education credential by 2020.