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Universities Hike Tuition for More Demanding Majors

Universities Hike Tuition for More Demanding Majors

Students who major in programs like math, science or business at public universities may pay higher tuition than their peers in other majors. “Differential tuition” programs charge higher tuition than the regular college cost for these in-demand subjects, which arguably cost more to teach, require more resources, and often lead to more lucrative jobs.

While engineering and science classes do demand more resources from colleges and universities, is charging extra money to students in the programs really the answer to tight budgets? At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, business and engineering students pay $50 more a credit (delmarvanow.com). This tuition hike may discourage low-income students from pursuing certain majors, making it more difficult for them to eventually secure lucrative positions.

Popular classes also affected

Degree programs aren’t the only aspect of college education to be affected by differential tuition. Santa Monica College, a community college in California, recently revealed a plan to charge higher fees for individual classes that are in high demand because of the requirements for transfer that many four-year schools demand, as Care2′s Kristina Chew wrote last month. Santa Monica students would be able to reserve a spot in these classes by paying $180 per credit hour instead of $46.

Students and faculty alike were troubled by the implications of this two-tier tuition program, as many students unable to pay the higher price would likely be edged out of required classes by those with more financial resources. However, any action on the proposal has been canceled, as the two-tier system would be illegal under the California Education Code because of equal opportunity education laws.

Who benefits?

Who really benefits from localized tuition increases? Does the revenue generated really provide more resources for students who are paying it? At a time when schools across the country are scrambling for money, it’s hard not to see differential tuition programs as a fundraising scheme. And for students who are already worried about being able to afford college, paying a higher tuition rate for a certain major is not an attractive option– and may reroute them into a field of study that they aren’t passionate about.

I would argue that students are the losers in this plan — either because they are missing out on educational opportunities, or because they are entering degree programs that have already been narrowed down by economic advantage, taking away the benefits that diversity provides for intellectual and emotional education. Let’s hope that equal opportunity education laws keep this practice contained to a few disciplines in certain schools… otherwise we could end up with an education system that keeps low-income or financially students down rather than working to raise them up.

Related Stories:

Community College Charges Extra For Popular Classes

UC System Might Double Tuition Fees in Coming Years

Students Pepper Sprayed While Protesting Tuition Hikes

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22 comments

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9:11AM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

who coves up with these ideas???

9:10AM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

unbelievable!

8:09PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Hey, why are you surprised? The colleges are going the same route as big business. They lobby, they charge outrageous tuitions and they claim they pay their fair share (of what I have yet to figure out) It has gotten to the point that colleges are not in the business of teaching students anymore, they are trying to find the easiest ways to make money, even if it is under the counter/desk.

5:14PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

So Anna Klenke - how do you suggest that Universities find the money to continue to provide the kind of education you would like?

Tax the rich maybe?

Perhaps universities are immune to the rising cost of living that the rest of us are struggling with?

Perhaps you think that money grows on trees?

Or perhaps a Ferrari should cost the same as a Ford?

Hmmm....

The answer to your poll question is that universities need to charge whatever it takes to keep them operating and providing quality education to kids, without ending up in mountains of debt!

Get it?

5:09PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Hmmm....

3:43PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Noted,,,,Same in Ireland,,,,

1:31PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

noted

12:14PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

This makes absolutely no sense. Paying higher tuition fees for so-called skilled professions or classes in demand sounds like a form of discrimination.
When I was in college we were required to take a course in economics. First I tried to take it from a teacher who mumbled with his back to the room. I walked out of that class of about 15 students. I then enrolled in a class taught by Tom Lantos, later a Representative in Congress, that was full and passed with no problem. Under Santa Monica College requirements, I would have had to pay a ridiculous sum for absolutely no reason other than they didn't have the courage to replace an incompetent teacher.
How crazy is that? Put fairness back into education.

12:14PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

This makes absolutely no sense. Paying higher tuition fees for so-called skilled professions or classes in demand sounds like a form of discrimination.
When I was in college we were required to take a course in economics. First I tried to take it from a teacher who mumbled with his back to the room. I walked out of that class of about 15 students. I then enrolled in a class taught by Tom Lantos, later a Representative in Congress, that was full and passed with no problem. Under Santa Monica College requirements, I would have had to pay a ridiculous sum for absolutely no reason other than they didn't have the courage to replace an incompetent teacher.
How crazy is that? Put fairness back into education.

11:28AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

I do understand extra fees for classes requiring extras facilities or use of items supplied by the school. By this, I mean, lab fees, supply fees etc. I do not believe in charging more simply because it's a "popular" class or, for crying out loud, "leads to a more lucrative job". Jeeeezzz, it's hard enough for college kids to GET any job when they graduate. Basing the cost of a college course on a "possibility" of a certain job is criminal.

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