California State University, Stanislaus, students had to think ahead for the spring semester, with a 17-unit limit, no-wiggle payment deadline and an iffy window to add or switch classes – all part of the college’s efforts to stay below an enrollment cap.
Registration did not reopen this week, as is customary, and fees must be paid by 5 p.m. Thursday or students will be dropped from their courses, according to an email sent to Stanislaus State students this fall.
“You will not be permitted to re-enroll unless registration is open and you pay all fees due in full, in advance. If registration is not open, you will not be permitted to re-register for spring courses,” the email says.
Spring registration closed Dec. 23. In other years, it would have reopened after winter break. This year, students await a decision – expected by week’s end – whether to reopen registration Jan. 15. Students can drop courses with registration closed, just not add any.
The provost and the vice president for enrollment and student affairs will decide whether to reopen registration based on the number of full-time students, Registrar Lisa Bernardo said. A full load is measured as 15 units for undergraduates, 12 units for graduate students.
New students, who need to complete orientation Jan. 14 before they can register, still will be able to complete their course requests, university spokesman James Leonard said.
The campus grew to 8,824 students this fall, taking a course load equal to 7,522 full-time students. The 2013-14 cap set by the California State University system, however, is 6,877 students per semester.
“We are allowed to exceed that by 5 percent. If we go beyond that 5 percent, that’s when we have to pay the fines, which are steep enough that they become a substantial deterrent,” Leonard said. That’s a cushion of 343 extra students per semester.
Doing the math: If Stanislaus State goes over 6,919 full-time students this spring, it will pay.
Because the cap counts courses, not actual bodies, keeping students from taking heavy loads figured in the university’s strategy.
“The enrollment restriction was that students could register for up to 17 units, as opposed to 18 for the fall 2013 term,” Bernardo said in an email. “Targets for CSU campuses are determined by the Chancellor’s Office, and as a result of our target, we placed the 17-unit restriction on spring 2014 registration.”
Most standard courses listed in the catalog are three units, so the one-unit cut for many students effectively cuts their semester to five classes (15 units) rather than six.