Class standing policy

Class standing

Student Class Standing (Year in college)

I.  Students are classified by the cumulative number of semester credit hours they have earned as recorded in the student’s official records. The cumulative number of hours will include all institutional credit earned at Concordia University, Nebraska and all transfer credit which has been presented by the student and accepted by the Registrar. Acceptance of transfer credit is indicated by the credit being recorded in the student’s record as maintained by the institution.

II. Students are classified as follows:

a. Freshmen – less than 28 hours earned

b. Sophomores – at least 28 hours but less than 58 hours earned

c. Juniors – at least 58 hours but less than 90 hours earned

d. Seniors – at least 90 hours earned.

III. These classifications will apply for institutional and federal financial aid as well as in any academic uses which may exist in the various catalogs and publications regarding undergraduate study.

Questions and answers regarding the policy

When was the new policy adopted?

On April 16, 2008, the faculty of Concordia University, Nebraska officially changed the policy that defines the number of credit hours needed to attain class standing for sophomore, junior and senior levels.

How does the old policy compare with the new policy?

Under the old policy students were considered sophomores after earning 32 credit hours, juniors after 64 credit hours, and seniors after 96 credit hours. Under the new policy, the respective break points are 28 credit hours to be considered a sophomore,  58 to be a junior, and 90 to be a senior.   (The new policy isn’t symmetrical: freshmen must earn 28 hours to become sophomores, sophomores must earn 30 more hours to become juniors and juniors must earn 32 more hours to become seniors.)

How was the old policy established?

We can’t find any reason other than by dividing 128 hours (the total needed to earn a baccalaureate degree) by four (years) to get 32 hours per year. The policy has been 32 hours per year for a long time.

Why make the change?

There are many reasons including at least these:

  1. Financial aid

    • Federal financial aid rules allow for students with sophomore and junior standing to obtain higher Stafford loan amounts than freshmen. Concordia’s 32/64 hour requirements for sophomore/junior standing meant many second- and third-year students did not reach sophomore/junior standing and were not eligible for the higher loan amount. This will assist some of those students.

    • Undergraduate students still have a maximum Stafford loan limit of $31,500 for their undergraduate experience. This might mean students reach that limit earlier.

    • Some private scholarships are reserved for upper-level students. This makes our students eligible a bit earlier.

  2. Registration

    A number of upper-level courses are reserved for students with junior standing or above. It has been fairly common for students entering their third year not to have junior standing. So, while those students were at a point in their program when they needed to take the upper level course they needed special permission to register. This change will reduce the number of unnecessary waivers required for our students to register appropriately.

  3. Reduce confusion

    Any number of complicating factors will be relieved by this change. For example, many second-year students describe themselves as sophomores even though they have not earned 32 hours. This caused confusion in the filing of FAFSA forms, in communication with students and parents, and in communicating with groups of students.

  4. Standards of other institutions

    • In a comparison of other institutions in Nebraska, the Great Plains Athletic Conference, and the Concordia University System, our breakpoints were substantially higher than all.

    • Recognize changes in practices in higher education in general and at Concordia.

    • Concordia’s students now have a much wider set of academic goals than they did when the previous policy was designed

  5. To avoid unduly penalizing freshmen who don’t complete 32 hours in their first year

    Freshmen frequently are caught by some type of problem which causes them to withdraw from a course during their first year. Most of them recover and are successful for the next three years Some of those students were significantly affected by not attaining sophomore status by the end of the first year. Moving the freshman to sophomore threshold 28 hours will mean a substantial number of additional students will be sophomores at the end of their first year.

Does it change any of the requirements needed to graduate?


Does it mean it might make it less likely to graduate in four years?

To graduate in four years still requires 128 hours, so students still need to average 32 hours per academic year to graduate in four years. (Some programs require more than 128 hours.) Concordia still encourages students to complete their program in four years if at all possible.

Students still have the responsibility to plan their academic program with the assistance of their faculty advisor to meet their personal goals.

When is it effective?

It is intended to be effective for the academic year 2008-09 and beyond. The policy is effective  July 1, 2008. However, it’s not as simple as that. Some decisions and actions regarding the fall term of 2008 have already been done; many more will occur before July 1.

What other implications might there be?

One big one might turn out to be in the creation of lists of students. The way Banner (our student information system) works once the change to our rules is made we’ll not be able to recreate data from previous years in the same way it was reported back then.

For example, a list of juniors prior to the change will have a significantly different composition than a list of juniors made after the change – even if no student has earned any more hours.

Time will tell how much of a burden that becomes.

Does this affect my registration for the fall?

It shouldn’t.

Obviously some students will be automatically eligible to register for courses after this takes place that they weren’t before. At the same time, most fall registration for those students has long been accomplished.

We’ll gladly do what we can to help facilitate any registration changes which might be beneficial. However, students must notify the registrar. There’s no way for us to find those potential changes without students identifying them.