Printed on: November 11, 2012

College 'super seniors' targeted


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 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 said enough is enough. They said 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 CSU Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the "graduation incentive fee" when it meets in Long Beach on Tuesday. The board tabled the proposal in September after students complained and trustees raised questions.

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.