The Costs and Consequences of Excess Credit Hours Policies
The Costs and Consequences of Excess Credit Hours Policies

Published online in:
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
July 20, 2017

Dennis A. Kramer II and Michael R. Holcomb, University of Florida
Robert Kelchen, Seton Hall University


The growth of the public discourse on college completion and student debt has pushed policymakers and institutional leaders to implement a variety of policies aimed at incentivizing student completion. This article examines state-adopted excess credit hour (ECH) policies on student completion and median debt outcomes. Using a quasi-experimental approach, we find little evidence that ECH policies positively affect student completion. However, we find statistically large estimates that adoption of ECH policies increase median student debt. Students from marginalized backgrounds (i.e., first-generation and low-income) appear to be most adversely affected by ECH policies. As states face constant pressures for resources, the adoption of tuition-based surcharges does not significantly alter student course-taking behaviors, rather shifts the cost burdens from the state to the individual student for perceived inefficiencies in students’ course-taking behaviors.

Read the news release —"State-Adopted Credit Hour Policies Associated with Increases in Student Debt but Not Graduation Rates"— here.

News Coverage

A Punishment That Doesn't Work
Inside Higher Ed, July 20, 2017

Study: Increased Credit Hours’ Impact on Graduation Rates ‘Very Limited’
Diverse Issues in Higher Education, July 19, 2017

Author Video

Watch co-author Dennis A. Kramer II (University of Florida) discuss the recent findings on extra credit hour policies.