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13-credit FAQ

Why was a 13-credit flat rate implemented?
When you graduate in four or five years, you profit by acquiring a more fundamentally sound education; being more competitive for jobs, professional schools, and graduate schools; and participating earlier in the economic benefits (wages and fringe benefits) associated with a baccalaureate degree. The University benefits when students graduate in a timely manner because it can educate more students with the same resources or use the resources to improve services.
Why is it a 13-credit policy? Why not a 15-credit minimum policy?
For most degrees, a student needs to average 15 credits a term to graduate in four years. Many students may take 16 or 17 credits one term and 14 or 13 credits the next term. The 13-credit policy is meant to encourage students to graduate in four years, but recognizes that not all students who graduate in four years take 15 credits every term.

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Should I take more than 13 credits?
Yes. If you are like most students, you will need to average 15 to 16 credits a semester to graduate in four years. If you have significant credits from PSEO, AP, or IB when you first enroll, you may be able to graduate even sooner.
With this policy, you save money by taking more than 13 credits each semester. Every semester, every credit over 13 is free. In tuition alone, the cost savings of graduating in four years rather than five is around $12,000. In addition to this benefit, students taking 13 or more credits receive priority in the registration queue for the subsequent semester. Keep in mind, as well, that most gift aid (scholarships and grants) is only available for a total of eight semesters.

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It is difficult for me to take 13 credits. Can I get an exemption from the 13-credit policy?
The University will continue to welcome degree-seeking students whose life situations clearly do not allow them to be full-time students. To be considered for an exemption from the 13-credit policy, you may complete and submit the online by the end of the fourth week of the semester. If your request is approved, you will be billed only for the credits you take, at the per credit rate. Go to the 13-credit policy page to see the types of exemptions that may be approved.

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What is the deadline to file for a reduced credit load?
The deadline is the end of the fourth week of the semester for which you are applying for the reduced credit load.
How does being approved for a reduced credit load affect my time in the registration queue for next semester?
If you have a temporary exemption for a reduced credit load, you are in the earlier stage of the registration queue for your academic level. If you have a permanent exemption and are taking less than 13 credits you will be in the later stage of the registration queue.

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How does the 13-credit policy apply to Wisconsin reciprocity students?
Wisconsin reciprocity students admitted prior to fall 2008 are charged tuition per credit for credits 1-12, and pay the flat tuition rate for credits 13 and over. Wisconsin reciprocity students admitted fall 2008 and later are charged the 13 credit flat rate unless they have an approved 13-Credit Excemption from their college. However, all Wisconsin reciprocity students will be charged for institutional fees according to the 13-credit policy, regardless of their admission term. Only students who have been approved for a reduced credit load may be eligible to pay the reduced rates for the technology or collegiate fees and other applicable University fees. Click here for more information on Wisconsin reciprocity rates.
I am an undergraduate international student who wants to register for less than 13 credits. What do I do?
If you are an international student on a F-1 or J-1 student visa who plans to register for fewer than 13 credits, you need to complete the online (a downloadable print version is also available at One Stop Forms Online). In addition, you must also submit an International Student and Scholar Services Reduced Course Load form to satisfy the 12-credit F-1/J-1 full-time status requirement. If you prefer to pick up a pre-printed version, the form is available for pick up at 190 Humphrey Center, West Bank campus.

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What about financial aid? Do I need to take 13 credits to receive financial aid?
Different types of financial aid have different requirements. You must take at least 15 credits per semester to be eligible for the maximum state grant. If you are receiving a merit scholarship from the University, you are expected to complete 30 credits each year, an average of 15 credits per semester. You must register for at least 12 credits to be eligible for the maximum federal financial aid.
What if I cannot take 13 credits because I cannot get into a class I need to graduate?
If you are having problems getting into classes, you should first contact the department of instruction to see if additional sections may be offered. You should also work with your college adviser. Colleges will do everything possible to identify space or find alternative offerings that enable you to stay on track for graduation. Remember that for some requirements, a variety of choices are available that will meet the requirement. Some classes may be offered at a time and day that you find less convenient, but it will be important for you to consider these options as well.

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Can I take more than 13 credits if I've been approved for a reduced credit load?
Yes.
What happens if I don't register for 13 credits?
If you do not register for 13 credits and do not have approval to take a reduced credit load, you will be billed for 13 credits. You may apply to your college for a temporary exemption or for part-time student status. If your application is approved, you will be billed only for the credits you take.

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I plan to be an active participant in a major student organization on campus. Can I get an exemption from paying the 13-credit flat rate?
No. Your major responsibility as a student is to complete your degree. Participation in student organizations can be a wonderful and valuable experience, but it should not take precedence over your coursework.
It's very important to me to get into medical school, so I want to take fewer credits each semester to keep my grades up. Can I get an exemption from the 13-credit flat rate?
No. Remember that medical schools and graduate program admission staff look not only at grades but also at the credit load you have been carrying. Because graduate and professional programs are very demanding, they look for evidence that you are able to succeed while carrying a full-time credit load. You will probably not improve your chances of admission by reducing your credit load and taking longer to graduate, even if your grades are slightly higher.

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I need to be a full-time student to be covered on my parents' health plan. How does the University define "full-time" for this purpose?
For health plan coverge purposes and for most federal financial aid, you will meet the full-time definition if you take 12 credits. But remember that you need to take at least 15 credits a semester to graduate in four years.
I am transferring to the Twin Cities campus from the Duluth campus. Will I still be charged the 13-credit flat rate?
Yes, if you are transferring from another University of Minnesota campus, you are considered a transfer student for this purpose and are subject to the 13-credit flat rate charge.
If I go to summer school, am I required to take 13 credits or submit a 13-Credit Exemption Request?
No, the policy covers only fall and spring semesters.
Do Online and Distance Learning (ODL) courses count as part of my required 13 credits?
Yes, but only in the semester in which you registered for the course.
I am a University staff member taking classes part-time toward a degree. Do I have to request a reduced credit load?
No, University staff taking classes with University support are automatically exempt from the 13-credit requirement.
What happens if I initially register for 13 credits and then cancel a class?
If you drop below 13 credits during the first four weeks of the semester, you can still complete and submit the online by the end of the fourth week of the semester. The refund and cancel/add deadlines still apply according to the date you canceled the class(es). If you do not file, or if your request is not approved, you will be charged for 13 credits of tuition.
If you drop below 13 credits after the deadline for tuition refunds (0% refund), there is no refund (in other words, you have already been billed for 13 credits and you will be responsible for that bill).

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Email onestop@umn.edu if you have additional questions.