Students who flunked their first philosophy paper or realized the folly of taking Freshman Organic Chemistry in addition to five other classes have until 5 p.m. today to drop classes this semester without the courses appearing on their transcripts.

But it will come with a price: $20.

According to the Blue Book, the fee is “for the processing of an approved course change notice on which withdrawal from a course is requested.” University Registrar Jill Carlton said the charge is not meant to penalize students, but rather, the money goes toward dealing with the thousands of changes to students’ course schedules.

“It’s a processing fee,” she said. “It can take days to process all the course change notices we have coming in.”

The registrar’s office processed over 1,500 course change notices seeking to drop a class last spring, Carlton said. Not only does this mean that almost 30 percent of undergraduates dropped a class last semester, but it also means that the registrar’s office collected $30,000. The numbers for last fall were similar, with some 1,300 drop forms.

Carlton said that although she does not know the exact amount of work required to process one dropped class, it is a complicated process. It takes nine keystrokes simply to get to a student’s record, she said.

Of a dozen students interviewed, all but one said they were unaware that such a policy existed, and most were unhappy with the rule.

“They charge you $20 to drop a class? I did not know that — it’s so silly,” said Rakibul Mazumder ’13.

Allison Bruff ’10 said the fee makes students think twice about a decision that she thinks she just be about grades.

“It kind of deters people,” she said.

Carlton said she does not know how long the charge has existed but that it predates her time as registrar. She also said the charge is not meant to serve as a disincentive to drop a course.

“Yale College is not trying to discourage students from dropping a course at all,” Carlton said. She also expressed a desire to see the process digitized eventually.

“When the system was instituted, the Yale College dean wanted to encourage face-to-face meeting between the student, adviser and dean,” Carlton said, “So they wanted there to be a paper process.”

The registrar also noted that other changes to course schedules, like switching from Credit/D/Fail to a letter grade or changing discussion sections, do not require a fee. This year, the Registrar’s Office instituted a new fee for students with clerical errors on their course schedules to incentivize students to avoid such errors, which complicate the Registrar’s Office’s job.

Students may still drop classes after the deadline today, but the classes appear on their transcripts with the letter “W,” denoting a withdrawal. The $20 charge still applies.