Differential college tuition

22 Apr

According to a  March 13th 2011 SF Gate with Bloomberg Business report, 57% of universities now use differential tuition:


That’s the portion of U.S. public research universities using differential tuition – the practice of charging different amounts to students based on their area of study. The trend is hitting business-school students especially hard, with an increasing number of colleges looking to squeeze money from what’s seen as a more lucrative field. Eighteen schools have adopted differential tuition in the past three years alone, according to a study by Glen Nelson, chief financial officer for the Arizona Board of Regents.http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/12/BUP11I9GUU.DTL#ixzz1siLfO9zU

A recent survey finds that more universities are considering differential tuition.

Scott Jaschik writes in the Inside Higher Ed article, The Rise of Differential Tuition:

A longstanding tradition in American higher education — that undergraduates are charged the same tuition, regardless of major — is eroding, especially at doctoral universities.

That is the finding of a new survey by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. Researchers checked the websites of every public institution that awards bachelor’s degrees, and then surveyed some of the institutions identified as having differential rates. A total of 143 public colleges or universities were found to now have differential tuition policies. That figure includes 29 percent of bachelor’s institutions, 11 percent of master’s institutions, and 41 percent of doctoral institutions….

Other findings of the new survey include the following:

  • At doctoral and master’s institutions, differential tuition is generally based on a student’s field of study, but at bachelor’s institutions, differential tuition is equally likely to be based on how far along students are in their programs (with juniors and seniors charged more than others, for example).
  • The most common majors facing extra charges are business, engineering and nursing.
  • Since public colleges and universities started to adopt variable tuition policies, the number doing so has gone up steadily, with no years from 1980 on showing a decline in the number of institutions with variable tuition.

The Cornell Institute’s report does not take a stand on whether differential tuition is a sound policy. But it questions whether so many institutions should be embracing a policy about which relatively little is known (except that it seems to generate revenue).

“The process by which differential tuition policies have arisen and been have spread across American public higher education institutions has not been examined,” the report says. “Neither has there been any research on the possible consequences of differential tuition policies. For example, does differential tuition by major influence students’ choice of majors? Do higher tuition levels for upper-level students affect students’ persistence and graduation rates? If such effects exist, are they larger for students from lower-income families and how do such effects interact with state and institutional financial aid policies?”: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/02/21/study-finds-increasing-numbers-public-colleges-differential-tuition#ixzz1siNxXhMq

Daniel de Vise is reporting in the Washington Post that Chancellor Gordon Gee of Ohio State University is considering differential tuition.

In Ohio State’s Gordon Gee proposes “differential” tuition, de Vise reports:

A recent survey by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, reported in Inside Higher Ed, found 143 public institutions that had differential tuition policies, meaning that they charge different rates for students with different majors.

Differential tuition is most common in doctoral institutions, the report found, with the highest surcharges in nursing, business and engineering, all fields that reward students with relatively high pay.

Tuition surcharges can be controversial, but they might also be the only way an institution such as Ohio State can tactfully recoup some of the money it’s losing by subsidizing the education of in-state students.

A quick read of the Ohio State Web site suggests that the institution already charges varying fees for students in different majors and programs. But the basic undergraduate tuition appears to be fixed. Ohio residents pay $19,926 in tuition and living expenses this year, for an education that costs closer to the $35,000 paid by nonresidents.

There has been much talk of how universities might recover the money they’re losing in an era of declining state support. The usual answer is to raise tuition; but schools that enact steep increases get pushback from parents and politicians.

Another tack is to jack up tuition for nonresidents and to increase their numbers on campus, because nonresidents generally pay the full cost of their study. But this can upset resident students, who find it correspondingly harder to get in.

Some higher-education thinkers have proposed progressive tuition: charging families on a sliding scale according to each one’s ability to pay. Top private universities already do this, in effect, with blanket need-based aid policies.

But Gee doesn’t think progressive tuition would work in Ohio. One of Ohio State’s peers, Miami University, already tried progressive tuition and gave it up after a few years.

“I’m a low tuition guy,” Gee said. At $9,711, Ohio State tuition is lower than the rate at Penn State or Michigan, but higher than at the University of Maryland.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/college-inc/post/ohio-states-gordon-gee-proposes-differential-tuition/2012/04/20/gIQAzGxhVT_blog.html

Higher Education funding has been decreased during the current financial calamity. Colleges are looking at shifting more costs to students.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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