On the day before registration, seniors had passed around information and advice about the easiest classes to take in order to fill the three-and-a-half unit requirement to be a full-time student. Though many seniors need fewer than three credits to graduate, the university has stated that housing will not be guaranteed to those who are not full-time students.
“I only need two units, and I don’t want to have to pay the full-time tuition if I don’t have to,” senior Kakie Pate said.
Pate, however, still registered as a full-time student, she said.
Last year, Daniel Markowitz, '18, Lindsay Duignan, '18 and Elise Girard, '18 were all permitted to live on campus while taking fewer than three-and-a-half credits, they said.
“I just spoke with the dean of Richmond College and he gave it the okay,” Markowitz said.
This year, students who request part-time status were told by Patrick Benner, director of residence life and undergraduate housing, that the university “will likely be in need of every available space on campus for full-time enrolled students,” as written in an email to senior Kathleen Berkery, who requested part-time status in order to study for and take the Certified Public Accountant exam required for the accounting job she is starting upon graduation.
“It’s just frustrating,” said senior Hope Cummins, who registered as a full-time student for the spring. “Half of my tuition isn’t going to contribute much to the school, but it would mean a lot to the students who can save that money.”
For students who need to take only two credits, the difference in tuition is significant. According to the Controller's website, full-time student tuition is $26,305 per semester. Part-time students pay $9,210 per credit.
If a student needs fewer than three credits, the cost of two is $18,420. This would save a considerable $7,885.
Benner responded to an interview request with a brief emailed statement.
“Per our policy students must be full-time (minimum 3.5 units) to reside in on-campus housing in order to be eligible for housing,” Benner stated in his email. “Our on-campus housing is great and highly sought after each semester and we must give priority to those students that are full-time status. We will likely be in need of every available space on campus for full-time enrolled students.”
The university is operating under full housing right now, with all 17 dorms and two apartment complexes free of construction unlike the past several years.
This fact has made some students skeptical.
“It seems like the university is just doing whatever they can to keep our money," said senior Amanda Brady, who also registered as a full-time student for the spring.
Westhampton College Dean Mia Reinoso Genoni’s role in part-time status approval is separate from the housing side, she said.
“There are two separate sides,” Genoni said. “All I decide is if the student can graduate. So every request that comes through me, I approve. Then it goes to Patrick Benner.”
Genoni said she believed that there weren’t more students than usual on campus this year but that there was a “housing crunch” that had contributed to this need for on-campus beds.
Senior Maddy Stone made arrangements with the university last year to take on part-time status this spring and was not warned about this housing situation, she said.
“My parents already paid full tuition for first semester, and for two credits of tuition for the spring semester,” Stone said. “I’m scared they’re going to kick me out of my apartment.”
Contact features writer Lucy Nalen at firstname.lastname@example.org.