Appendix D

10/27/15

SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF LIONPATH

Change to Senate Policy 34-89 (Course Drop)

(Legislative)

Implementation: Upon approval by the Senate and revision of relevant AAPPM policies by the Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education

Rationale:

Though late-dropping a course is not an ideal outcome for any student, it does provide a mechanism for students to step away from courses without directly jeopardizing their immediate academic standing (i.e. grade-point average). Degree completion is the motivating factor for students and academic advisers play a critical role in helping students to evaluate options that will help promote their success as a student.

Current Penn State policy allows students in a baccalaureate program to drop a total of 16 credits. Once the student reaches that limit, no further late-drops are permitted. LionPath’s core functionality is not capable of checking the number of late-drop credits at the time the drop request is made. Adding this functionality would require significant customization, both in initial building and on-going maintenance.

These limitations imposed by LionPath, however, provide an opportunity for us to revisit how we deal with late drop. While it would seem that a limit would decrease the use of this safety valve, at present, many students approach these 16 credits as something to be used strategically during their academic career (for students graduating FA13 to SU14, only 9% exceeded 13 drop-credits). Lifting the limit will help ensure that the late-drop option is viewed as a safety value to be used in appropriate situations after careful and deliberate thought has been given to all viable options.

Additionally, the current limit on the number of late-drop credits often affects students who are grappling with significant life situations—often some of our most vulnerable students—who must stay with classes that are not going well or attempt a petition process for additional late-drop credits. Allowing students the freedom to make informed and independent decisions about whether to withdraw from classes fits with the overarching objective of helping students to take ownership of their own education.

The attendant issue is whether students will abuse unlimited late-drops to meet needed requirements for various academic programs at Penn State. To prevent this sort of situation, a new policy is proposed that would limit attempts for a given course to three (Policy 47-80). The need to manage limited resources (e.g., seats in courses), to help ensure timely degree progress, and to prevent misuse of unlimited late-drops are all addressed by placing a limit on the number of attempts in a given course. By being able to formally prevent students from persisting in courses that are not working for them, we believe that we can better help students identify viable academic plans sooner and, thereby, help promote timely degree completion. As a point of reference, across the Big Ten, our peer institutions are far more likely to allow unlimited late-drops while placing a limit on the number of attempts in a given course.

Combined, these two policies will help ensure that we are adequately addressing legitimate issues with reasonable solutions. The concern that students will abuse an unlimited late-drop policy is unlikely because of several factors. First and foremost, it is strongly felt that students want to graduate and they fully recognize how not completing courses will delay that outcome. Similarly, federal rules on eligibility for financial aid stipulate that students must be making satisfactory degree progress. Students who potentially misuse the policy on late-drops will quickly find themselves ineligible for federal financial aid. Moreover, placing a three-attempt limit on a given course will ensure that students make thoughtful and informed decisions about whether to late-drop a specific course. Using three attempts on a given course would more closely align Penn State rules with federal financial aid rules (which limit attempts to two).

Note: A second change in this policy is the shortening of the drop/add period from 10 days to six. This change results from Bursar and Financial Aid policy changes. The net result is that students will not be financially penalized for dropping courses during drop/add. Furthermore, financial aid will be calculated based on a Census Day credit count, rather than a rolling count during the first week of classes. The rationale for these changes is described in greater detail in the Change to Senate Policy 34-87 document.

CURRENT POLICY:

34-89 Course Drop
A student may drop a course without academic penalty during the Course Drop period (however, a tuition penalty may be assessed according to Penn State’s tuition policies – see http://www.bursar.psu.edu/adjustments.cfm#PENALTY). This period is the first ten (10) calendar days of either the fall or spring semester, if the duration of the course is equal to the duration of the semester. For all other courses (those not equal in duration to a semester of which they are part and all courses offered in the summer), the duration of the Drop Period is calculated by multiplying ten (10) days by the duration of the course (in days) divided by seventy-five (75) days, and then rounding up to the next higher whole number of days.

There is no limit to the number of courses/credits that can be dropped during this period and courses dropped during this period do not show up on the student’s academic record.

The Late Drop period for a course begins with the first calendar day after the Course Drop period and ends on the day when 80 percent of the duration of the course is attained. During the Late Drop period, the student may drop a course (Late Drop), and a WN symbol will be entered on the student’s academic record. Specific rules regarding the use of Late Drop credits are as follows:

  1. Use of the Late Drop during the Late Drop period is limited to a maximum of 16 credits for undergraduates in baccalaureate programs. Students registered as nondegree (regular or conditional), degree-seeking provisional, and associate degree students are limited to ten Late Drop credits.
  2. If a student’s period of enrollment is interrupted, the available Late Drop credits do not get reset upon re-enrollment except in the case of academic renewal (Policy 58-60).
  3. Late Drop credits used while a student is in nondegree or degree-seeking provisional status will count towards the Late Drop credit limit when the student enters or re-enters a degree program (baccalaureate or associate).
  4. Late Drop credits used in one degree program will count towards the Late Drop credit limit for students who switch to another degree program without earning a degree in the first program. However, if a degree in the first program is earned and a student pursues a sequential degree (Policy 60-20), the Late Drop credits are reset to the number allowed for the sequential degree.

Note: By exercising a Late Drop, a student may be seriously jeopardizing his or her expected progress toward graduation. It is possible that a student will not be able to schedule the dropped course in the succeeding semester for a variety of reasons, thereby delaying progress toward graduation. In addition, financial aid may be affected. Therefore, students with financial aid are strongly urged to consult with Penn State’s Office of Student Aid.

A student may not drop or late drop the last/only course on his/her schedule. Dropping or late dropping the last/only course must be done through a withdrawal (policy 56-30).

RECOMMENDATION:

Please note that the following contains bold text for additions and strikeouts indicating deleted text. Deleted text is notated with [Delete] [End Delete].

34-89 Course Drop
A student may drop a course without academic penalty during the Course Drop period  [Delete] (however, a tuition penalty may be assessed according to Penn State’s tuition policies – see http://www.bursar.psu.edu/adjustments.cfm#PENALTY). [End Delete] If the duration of the course is equal to the duration of the semester, this period is the first  [Delete] ten (10) [End Delete] six (6) calendar days of either the fall or spring semester, beginning midnight on the first day of class. [Delete] if the duration of the course is equal to the duration of the semester. [End Delete] For all other courses (those not equal in duration to a semester of which they are part and all courses offered in the summer), the duration of the Drop Period is calculated by multiplying  [Delete] ten (10) [End Delete] six (6) days by the duration of the course (in weeks [Delete] days [End Delete]) divided by fifteen (15) weeks  [Delete]  seventy-five (75) days, [End Delete] and then rounding up to the next higher whole number of days. For example, a 6-week course would have a drop period of 3 calendar days (6 days * 6 weeks / 15 weeks equals 2.4 days, rounded up to 3 days).

There is no limit to the number of courses/credits that can be dropped during this period and courses dropped during this period do not show up on the student’s academic record.

The Late Drop period for a course begins with the first calendar day after the Course Drop period and ends on the day when 80 percent of the duration of the course is attained. During the Late Drop period, the student may drop a course (Late Drop), and a notation (Policy 48-20)  [Delete] WN symbol [End Delete] will be entered on the student’s academic record.  [Delete] Specific rules regarding the use of Late Drop credits are as follows:

  1. Use of the Late Drop during the Late Drop period is limited to a maximum of 16 credits for undergraduates in baccalaureate programs. Students registered as nondegree (regular or conditional), degree-seeking provisional, and associate degree students are limited to ten Late Drop credits.
  2. If a student’s period of enrollment is interrupted, the available Late Drop credits do not get reset upon re-enrollment except in the case of academic renewal (Policy 58-60).
  3. Late Drop credits used while a student is in nondegree or degree-seeking provisional status will count towards the Late Drop credit limit when the student enters or re-enters a degree program (baccalaureate or associate).
  4. Late Drop credits used in one degree program will count towards the Late Drop credit limit for students who switch to another degree program without earning a degree in the first program. However, if a degree in the first program is earned and a student pursues a sequential degree (Policy 60-20), the Late Drop credits are reset to the number allowed for the sequential degree. [End Delete]

Note 1: By exercising a Late Drop, a student may be seriously jeopardizing his or her expected progress toward graduation. It is possible that a student will not be able to schedule the dropped course in the succeeding semester for a variety of reasons, thereby delaying progress toward graduation. In addition, students have limited attempts at a course (per Policy 47-80). Therefore, late-dropping a course could preclude re-taking it. Finally, financial aid may be affected. Therefore, students with financial aid are strongly urged to consult with Penn State’s Office of Student Aid.

Note 2: Per University policy, students may not change their registration in a course while a case of academic misconduct is being investigated. Likewise, students found responsible for academic misconduct may not change their registration status for that class.

Note: 3: A student may not drop or late drop the last/only course on his/her schedule. Dropping or late dropping the last/only course must be done through a withdrawal (Policy 56-30).

CLEAN COPY:

34-89 Course Drop
A student may drop a course without academic penalty during the Course Drop period. If the duration of the course is equal to the duration of the semester, this period is the first six (6) calendar days of either the fall or spring semester, beginning midnight on the first day of class. For all other courses (those not equal in duration to a semester of which they are part and all courses offered in the summer), the duration of the Drop Period is calculated by multiplying six (6) days by the duration of the course (in weeks) divided by fifteen (15) weeks, and then rounding up to the next higher whole number of days. For example, a 6-week course would have a drop period of 3 calendar days (6 days * 6 weeks / 15 weeks equals 2.4 days, rounded up to 3 days).

There is no limit to the number of courses/credits that can be dropped during this period and courses dropped during this period do not show up on the student’s academic record.

The Late Drop period for a course begins with the first calendar day after the Course Drop period and ends on the day when 80 percent of the duration of the course is attained. During the Late Drop period, the student may drop a course (Late Drop), and a notation (Policy 48-20) will be entered on the student’s academic record.

Note 1: By exercising a Late Drop, a student may be seriously jeopardizing his or her expected progress toward graduation. It is possible that a student will not be able to schedule the dropped course in the succeeding semester for a variety of reasons, thereby delaying progress toward graduation. In addition, students have limited attempts at a course (per Policy 47-80). Therefore, late-dropping a course could preclude re-taking it. Finally, financial aid may be affected. Therefore, students with financial aid are strongly urged to consult with Penn State’s Office of Student Aid.

Note 2: Per University policy, students may not change their registration in a course while a case of academic misconduct is being investigated. Likewise, students found responsible for academic misconduct may not change their registration status for that class.

Note: 3 A student may not drop or late drop the last/only course on his/her schedule. Dropping or late dropping the last/only course must be done through a withdrawal (Policy 56-30).

The committee wishes to thank the members of the Project LionPATH Academic Advisors Advisory Committee and the members of the Senate Committees: SCCA, Undergraduate Education, and ARSSA for their recommendations and consultation.

SPECIAL SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF LIONPATH

  • David Babb, Chair
  • Michael Büsges
  • Andrew Cole
  • Karen Duncan
  • Jacqueline Edmondson
  • Galen Grimes
  • Pamela Hufnagel
  • Michel Haigh
  • Ariel Kline
  • Robert Kubat
  • Keefe Manning
  • Sandy Murray
  • Judith Ozment
  • Richard Robinett
  • David Salvia
  • Janet Schulenberg
  • Lori Anne Stania