Western Michigan University presented their Student First Tuition Simplification Strategy at the Western Student Association (WSA) meeting Wednesday, March 10. The strategy would consist of one tuition rate scheduled across all course modalities.
The strategy’s goal is to make costs “easier to understand and anticipate, prioritizing retention and graduation by incentivizing full course loads.”
The strategy would charge students the same tuition rates for courses offered in-person, at regional sites or online. All credit hours will be included in the flat rate corridor, while maintaining current student classification level and residency. Programs that are 100% online are not included in this.
“This is the first step to really enable new financial aid strategies and a rate structure that benefits students and their families, and is more comprehensible and predictable,” Provost Jennifer Bott said.
Currently, the undergraduate tuition and fees vary by course modality, residence status and lower and upper level courses. Online credit hours are also assessed at a different rate that does not recognize residency or class level. A $20 technology fee is also assessed per course.
This aligns WMU with other Michigan public universities, which all assess tuition as proposed, regardless of course modality.
The enrollment fee and the technology fee will both be absorbed into the tuition rate in the strategy.
“We know students and families don’t like additional fees, sometimes they come as nasty surprises.” said Jan Van Der Klay, vice president for Business and Finance. “It’s also more difficult to determine what your total bill will be.”
All registered credit hours will also be included in the flat rate corridor unless one is enrolled in an online program. Students will see this at the time they register for classes, Van Der Klay said.
The strategy will also absorb the legacy tuition that has been in place for non-residential undergraduate students that were admitted prior to Summer I, 2017. The Students Assessment Fee and Sustainability Fees will also be assessed to all students, except those in fully online programs.
“This is a structure change,” Van Der Klay said. “This does not change their (undergrads) rates, So, it’s not where resident, undergrad students are being disadvantaged. This is a rate structure change. It does not imply what is happening to individual rates, whether going up or going down.”
She continued: “We’re looking at blending the fees and we’re looking at the current rate structure. We’re looking to keep it neutral, revenue neutral. No loss, no revenue.”
The university does not have an estimate for the tuition rates for the 2021-2022 academic year.