Summer Sessions No Longer Offer Free Courses Beyond 8 Units

Think you can catch a break from summer-spending woes at UC Irvine this year? Think again. UCI Summer Session’s generous discount program will not be offered again this year due to the recent budget crisis and economic downturn.
Summer Sessions began offering a fee cap at eight units for summer session students in summer 2006. Any student taking courses during summer session would be able to take as many units as they could be approved for, doling out fees for only the minimum eight units. Most summer school-goers experienced a savings of 50 percent simply by taking the full summer course load of 16 units.
The university began offering the program in order to increase summer school enrollment and to improve awareness of summer school’s ability to help students along their path toward graduation. Currently, 50 percent of UCI’s full-time students attend summer session. Traveling back to 2004, that number was a mere 26 percent. The short-lived offer, alongside other improvement measures, succeeded in increasing summer school’s popularity.
“We’ve made changes in summer session in stages to make it more useful to students. We sequence courses during the summer, and we actually offer 800 courses in the summer so there are many more selections and opportunities for students,” said summer school Associate Director Molly Schneider.
Students at UCI, across the board, are unhappy about the decision to not offer the program again. Ali Borowicz, a fourth-year international studies major, believes it is not fair to new UCI students who didn’t get to experience the deal.
“I’m on [a] tennis scholarship so I haven’t had to pay for school at all, but when I think about it, that’s pretty messed up for students who have to because they have always offered it like that. It’s unfair to new students who now will have to pay extra,” Borowicz said.
Bronson Smith, a second-year cognitive sciences major, found the idea unattractive in a different way. Smith is interested in seeing a summer school program that helps students pay for co-requisite courses.
“I would never want to take more than 8 units in the summer, so that’s a non-issue. But that means that if you take chemistry with lab [6 units] and then another class, you’re getting charged more. One and two unit classes should not count if they correlate to a main course you’re taking,” Smith said.
Others like Leslie Akizuki, a fourth-year political science and international studies double major, are simply disheartened by more negative news for already struggling students.
“It’s discouraging because the economy is so damaged and families are struggling to put their children through college. Taking away the cap puts people in a worsened economic position,” Akizuki said.
It seems that the length of stay of the summer discount has given students the wrong impression. While the summer session course discount has been around for quite some time, it was simply a one-time deal, offered repeatedly. Still, the program is regarded as a success, despite the budget crisis disallowing its continuation.
“We’re happy that it helped students financially, but it was never intended to be permanent. It helped to change the culture on the campus so that students were more aware of summer and aware of the benefits of using summer,” Schneider said.
In addition to removing the previous offer of fee caps during the summer, student wallets will feel an additional sting for summer session classes. Summer is the leading quarter, so when the state decides to raise fees for all of the UCs, it happens first during the summer. Students can expect to pay more per unit starting this summer 2009.
Schneider regards the tuition hike and decision to discontinue the discount program as a regrettable but necessary decision.
“We feel that it’s unfortunate that we won’t be able to offer it because we know that it did help students and we know that it’s not getting any easier to pay for fees and support yourself for schools. But it was unfortunately very necessary,” Schneider said.