Western Michigan University has developed a simplified, students-first undergraduate tuition structure to make college costs easier to understand and anticipate while prioritizing retention and graduation by incentivizing full course loads of 15 credit hours.
Western has always aimed to keep the cost of education as affordable as possible while also offering a high-quality degree. More than half of Michigan's 15 public universities charge more than Western in average in-state undergraduate tuition and fees.
Feedback and interactions with students and families led WMU to improve its historical rate structures. They were difficult to understand and, because they were expressed differently than Western’s peer institutions, the strong value of a WMU degree was hard to discern for prospective students and families. This was especially true when comparing the cost of attendance across public four-year schools in the state.
The University’s streamlined tuition structure will make costs easier to understand and anticipate. Under the new structure, all registered undergraduate students with schedules that total 12 to 15 credit hours will pay the University’s flat-rate tuition. There is now one rate schedule whether the course is offered through WMU’s main campus, a regional site or online.
As of the 2021-22 academic and fiscal year, the University no longer separately assesses an enrollment fee for undergraduate students. The cost for the services and operations funded by the enrollment fee are now part of the price of tuition, bringing Western into alignment with Michigan’s 14 other public universities.
Programs that are 100% online are not included in the University’s flat-rate tuition model because of the market conditions and enrollment patterns that are particular to online degrees.
Historically, Western’s tuition and fees varied by course modality (main campus in-person, regional in-person and online), residency status and lower and upper level. Main campus and regional site credit hours were assessed based on residency status and class-level classification. Online credit hours were assessed at a different rate that did not recognize residency or class level. A $20 technology fee was also assessed per course.
As of the 2021-22 academic and fiscal year, WMU established the following improvements in the undergraduate tuition structure:
- WMU now has one tuition rate schedule across all course modalities (main campus, regional site or online).
- The enrollment fee was eliminated by including it in the tuition rate as other Michigan public universities do.
- WMU eliminated the technology fee that had been charged for each online course.
- For semester schedules with 12 to 15 credit hours, all registered credit hours are now included in the flat-rate tuition model so that students pay the same rate for course loads that range from 12 to 15 credit hours. Credit hours are included in flat-rate tuition while maintaining student classifications for class level and residency.
- WMU eliminated the legacy tuition rate structure that has been in place for non-resident undergraduate students admitted prior to summer I 2017.
- Programs that are delivered 100% online are not affected by the restructuring changes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does this impact differential tuition in the colleges that assess it?
Differential tuition applies in the colleges of business, engineering and fine arts and will continue to be assessed. These investments fund the discipline-specific programmatic and instructional support needs of students in these colleges.
What did the enrollment fee fund?
The student enrollment fee funded several services, operations and campus facilities that are important to the student experience, including information technology support systems for students, the recreation center and bus transportation. These services and operations will continue and are now accounted for as part of tuition.
Does this change increase tuition?
This is a tuition structure change and does not affect tuition increases that are considered when the University establishes its annual budget.
What are the Student Assessment Fee and Sustainability Fee?
These are student-body imposed fees administered outside of Western’s administration. The fees are currently assessed to undergraduate and graduate students taking main campus in-person or hybrid credits. They will continue to be assessed to all undergraduates and graduate students except those in fully online programs.
Are there plans to change the graduate tuition structure?
The graduate tuition structure was reformed effective Summer II 2020 for tuition and fee assessment based on campus of registration.