FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

OK, why the change to semesters? What are the advantages?
The semester schedule offers many benefits. The change brings us closer to the goal of seamless education in Georgia – where students of all ages can move easily between the state's three major educational systems – the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), the University System of Georgia and the K-12 system.

Additionally, the change will align the technical college calendar with more than 80 percent of American colleges and universities that now follow the semester system.

Having calendar alignment and semester credit hours will make transferring to other colleges and universities easier for our students.

The length of semesters will also provide more time to master course material and the opportunity to delve more deeply into course content. A semester calendar also facilitates dual and joint enrollment programs, internships and clinicals, and other forms of hands-on learning.

SCHEDULING:

Tell me, what's the difference between a quarter system and a semester system?
The quarter system divides the academic year into four, 10-week periods. The semester system divides the year into fall and spring semesters, each 15 weeks long plus exam time. There is also a summer session with 10 weeks of instruction plus exam time.

Under a semester academic calendar, fall semester will begin in late August and end in mid-December. Spring semester will begin in early January and end in May. Summer session will begin in late May and end in early August. The first summer session, starting in July 2011, will be a special five-week quarter session to launch the new semester academic calendar, which will begin in August 2011.

What exactly will the new academic calendar look like?
During the transition from quarter to semester, the summer term of 2011 will be a five-week quarter session. This five-week quarter session will offer the opportunity for students to possibly complete their program of study on the quarter system before the semester system begins in August 2011.

Fall Semester:  August – December  (15 weeks plus exams)
Spring Semester:  January – May  (15 weeks plus exams)
Summer Semester:  May – August  (10 weeks plus exams)

Ok, so what's the formula for converting quarter credit hours to semester credit hours?
In most cases, credits earned under the quarter system can be converted to semester hours by multiplying the total quarter credits by .67. For example: A student who has earned 30 quarter hours will have earned 20 semester hours.

However, the best way for a current student to determine their credits earned under the semester catalog is by meeting with their advisor and reviewing their semester crosswalk plan.

I'm on a tight schedule. Will it take me longer to complete my program on semesters?
Because each program's curriculum and individual courses will be adapted for a semester calendar, we anticipate that the total completion time for most programs will not be increased.

Just curious – how many hours are considered a full-time course load under semesters?
For enrollment verification purposes, 12 semester hours (usually four courses) is considered fulltime.

For the purpose of calculating financial aid under current federal guidelines, students are classified as full-time when they are enrolled in at least 12 semester hours. A student who is enrolled in nine, 10 or 11 semester hours is considered three-fourths time, while a student load of between six and eight semester hours is considered half-time. Any student enrolled in five semester hours or less is considered less than half-time.

So, what's going on with the summer 2011 session?
The initial summer session in 2011 will be five weeks long. In following years, summer semesters will be 10 weeks plus exam time.

Tell me this – will I be required to go to school every semester, including summer?
As in the past, students will have the choice as to which semesters they enroll, recognizing that each program of study will have a specific course plan and schedule to follow for recommended completion.

How will the conversion affect courses with clinicals?
Typically, students will be able to spend a longer period of time at the clinical site to experience educational opportunities.

So, what will a semester class look like? How long will classes be?
Each college will be able to prepare class schedules to meet the needs of their students. The schedule will depend on the total content and credit hours for the class. Some classes are strictly considered lecture classes, while other classes can be a combination of both lecture and lab experiences.

ACADEMICS

I was wondering... will I lose any credit hours because of the conversion?
The guiding principle of the semester conversion process is that every effort will be made to see that each student will be successfully transitioned with as minimal disruption as possible to his or her coursework during the changeover. Read our Student Commitment for more.

Will my program cost more under semesters?
The annual cost under the semester system should be roughly equivalent to the annual cost under the quarter system. Incrementally, however, the cost of one semester will be higher than that of one quarter because the tuition will now be paid three times a year (for three semesters) instead of four times a year (for four quarters).

I started on the quarter system. What do I do to make the change?
Transitional students, those who start classes before August 2011, should make an appointment with their advisor to review their semester crosswalk and receive their individual academic plan.

I've worked hard to get where I am. Will my credits now transfer to University System of Georgia schools?
Having the TCSG on semesters will absolutely further the goal of seamless education for Georgians, where students can move easily between the state's educational systems, and there will no longer be a transferring challenge for TCSG students. However, the decision on which credits to accept for transfer ultimately remains the decision of the college to which the student is transferring. As always, students considering transfer should contact the admissions and counseling office at the transfer institution.

So, when will I be able to see my new program requirements?
As a current student, during the year prior to conversion, from July 2010 to July 2011, you will meet with your advisor to review your academic and program plan under semesters. Programs of study and course outlines will also be available to prospective students at that time.

I don't want to get lost in the crowd. Will class size increase?
The semester conversion will not impact class size.

I'd like to know the difference between a semester course and a quarter course?
A semester course (15 weeks of instruction plus exams) covers more material than a quarter course (10 weeks of instruction plus exams). Students will spend about the same amount of time per week in class for about 15 weeks of instruction instead of 10 weeks.

Will my GPA be affected?
No. GPAs (grade point average) will still be computed by multiplying the number of credit hours of a course by quality points earned (A=4; B=3; C=2; D=1; F or WF=0) and then dividing the total of quality points by the total of credit hours attempted.

Will course numbers change?
Yes. The conversion will change both course prefixes and course numbers from three characters to four. For example, ENG 191 is now ENG 1101. These changes will be reflected in course catalogs and on all appropriate registration materials.

Will diploma and certificate programs change, or just the associate degree programs?
Diploma and certificate programs will also make the change to semester scheduling. If you are enrolled in a diploma or certificate program, you should meet with your advisor to learn of specific program changes and ensure a smooth transition.

So, how many hours do I need now to complete a certificate? A diploma? An associate degree?
Programs vary in length depending on the content of the programs. Typically, the following parameters are followed:

Technical Certificate of Credit
9-36 semester credit hours

Diploma
37-59 semester credit hours

Associate Degree
Minimum of 60 semester credit hours

TUITION AND FINANCIAL AID

I'm on a budget. Will my tuition increase?
The annual cost of tuition under the semester system should be roughly equivalent to the annual cost under the quarter system. However, the cost of one semester will be higher than that of one quarter because tuition will now be paid three times a year (for three semesters) instead of four times a year (for four quarters).

I want to know this... how will this affect my financial aid?
Student access to Federal and State Student Aid should not be affected by the change. The amount of student assistance received will still be based on whether the student is full-time, three-fourths time, half-time, or less than half-time. However, in order to insure that aid is available at the time of registration, you will need to apply for assistance as early as possible.

How does the conversion affect Federal Student Aid?
The conversion to the semester system will cause Federal Student Aid awards (Pell, SEOG, ACG and Federal Work Study) to be awarded over two semesters instead of four quarters. Students' awards will be divided in half for the fall and spring semesters. Remaining eligibility for the summer term will be calculated on a student-by-student basis. Students should contact the Financial Aid Office at their college for more information

So, will this change affect the HOPE Grant or Scholarship?
Georgia's HOPE Scholarship Program will pay the charges for tuition and mandatory fees for HOPE Scholarship and HOPE Grant eligible students just as it always has.

Will I reach my HOPE cap sooner or later under semesters?
The number of hours for the HOPE cap is 190 quarter hours or 127 semester hours. A student should not reach the cap any sooner under the semester system than under the quarter system because the credit hours for each class will be less under semesters.

How will this change affect other scholarships?
We anticipate that many private scholarship donors will adjust the amount of their awards to reflect the semester calendar under which tuition is only due three times per year.

Just curious – how much will the HOPE book allowance for semesters be?
The semester HOPE book allowance will be $75 for students taking five credit hours or less and $150 for those taking six or more.

How will students receiving unemployment benefits be affected?
The semester conversion will not affect students on unemployment benefits.

How will students on the GI Bill be affected?
The semester system conversion will not affect students on the GI Bill. Certification will be made for each term of student enrollment.

TRANSITIONAL STUDENTS

Tell me this – what's a transitional student?
A transitional student is a student who starts at a TCSG college under the quarter system and has not completed his or her program of study when the semester system is implemented.

So, I'm a transitional student. How will I be affected?
The guiding principle of the semester conversion process is that every effort will be made to see that each student will be successfully transitioned with as minimal disruption as possible to his or her coursework during the changeover. Please read our Student Commitment for more details.

Seriously, what should I do to plan for semesters?
If you are close to completing your program of study, you should try to complete all requirements under the quarter system by June 2011. If you are unable to complete your program of study by June 2011, work with your program advisor to develop a transition advising plan.

Ok, I can't complete my program before the semester system begins. Now what?
If you and your advisor know that you will not complete a program by spring 2011, your advisor will start planning with you now for the changeover. At the meeting with your advisor, you'll be given a semester crosswalk guide and an academic plan for your program under semesters.

Can a transitional student still graduate under a catalog that uses the quarter system?
Yes, as long as that catalog was in effect while the student was in continuous attendance at a TCSG college. You and your advisor should determine the remaining program requirements under both quarter and semester catalogs. While no significant differences in remaining requirements should exist, there may be some differences in the specific courses needed to complete a program.

How will courses be converted to the semester system?
An Academic Affairs team has been working on converting quarter courses to semester courses in every program for many months, adjusting the current program curriculum to the semester catalog by adapting, combining and/or revising current course content.

How do I convert my current hours into semester hours?
In most cases, credits earned under the quarter system can be converted to semester hours by multiplying the total quarter credits by .67. For example: A student who has earned 30 quarter hours will have earned 20 semester hours.

However, the best way for a current student to determine their credits earned under the semester catalog is by meeting with their advisor and reviewing their semester crosswalk plan.

Example:

If a student enrolls in a five quarter hour course, multiply five quarter hours by .67 to convert the five quarter hour course to three semester hours.

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