KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees approved an undergraduate tuition simplification plan Thursday designed to make costs easier for students to discern and anticipate while prioritizing retention and graduation as a result of incentivizing full course loads.
"Our current rate structures are difficult to understand and are expressed differently than our peers, making the value of a Western Michigan degree ... difficult to weigh against our competitors and peers," Provost Jennifer Bott said in presenting the proposal to trustees.
Under the new structure, which goes into effect with the fall 2021 semester, the value and affordability of a WMU education will be clearer for students and families as they explore college options and compare prices.
In the University's current model, tuition and fees vary by course modality (Main Campus in-person, regional in-person and distance education), residency status and lower and upper level. Main Campus and regional site credit hours have been assessed based on residency status and class-level classification.
With the updated approach to pricing approved by trustees Thursday, all registered undergraduate credit hours will be included in the University's flat-rate tuition model. Thus, there would be one rate schedule whether a course is offered through Main Campus, a regional site or via distance education. Degree programs that are 100% online are not included in the University's flat-rate tuition model due to the market conditions and enrollment patterns that are particular to degrees programs that are fully online.
Additionally, effective fall 2021, the technology fee charged per distance education course will be eliminated, and the University will no longer separately assess an enrollment fee for undergraduate students. The enrollment fee supports an array of services and operations—the Sindecuse Health Center, information technology that supports students, auxiliary facilities, student recreation and infrastructure. The cost for these services and operations will be included in the price of tuition.
These two changes—simplified undergraduate tuition model and enrollment fee rolled into tuition—put Western in line with Michigan's other 14 public universities, which all assess tuition in this manner. This restructuring is a crucial step to enable multi-year financial aid strategies and simplified rate structures that would benefit students and families.
Bringing the various course modalities into the flat-rate tuition structure also encourages students to take full course loads to graduate expeditiously. "We want our students to graduate, and we know that taking 15 credit hours, as opposed to 12 or fewer a semester, is critical for students graduating as soon as possible to make use of their professional preparation" beyond college, Bott says.
Tuition simplification elements (Effective Fall 2021)
- One tuition rate schedule across all course modalities (main, regional site or distance education).
- Enrollment fee is eliminated by including it in the tuition rate, as other Michigan public institutions do.
- The technology fee charged per distance education course is eliminated.
- All registered credit hours will be included in the flat-rate tuition model (Under flat rate, students pay the same rate for a course load that ranges from 12 to 15 credit hours).
- The legacy tuition rate structure that has been in place for non-resident undergraduate students that were admitted prior to summer I 2017 is eliminated.
- All credit hours will be included in flat-rate tuition while maintaining current student classifications for level and residency.
- Degree programs that are 100% online are not included in the University's flat-rate tuition model due to the market conditions and enrollment patterns that are particular to degrees programs that are fully online. The pricing model for these programs will not change with the tuition restructuring plan.
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