Tuition & fee policies vary considerably from school to school and it is very important that you understand the many factors that affect tuition and fee charges for each school that you are considering.
Q & A
What is tuition?
Tuition is the amount each college charges for the courses a student enrolls in. Some schools charge a flat fee tuition while others charge based upon the number of credit hours taken.
How does flat fee tuition work?
Colleges that require students to maintain full time status often charge a flat fee for tuition which typically covers four to six classes per term. At these schools it is usually the case that students will be charged the fulltime flat fee tuition even if they drop below full time status and take two or three classes. At some colleges, even second semester seniors who only need two classes to graduate are required to pay the full-time flat fee tuition.
On the other hand, flat fee tuition pricing represents one of the biggest bargains available to college students. Unfortunately, most college students miss the opportunity by opting to take the minimum number of courses required for graduation instead of the higher number of courses they actually pay for. For example, at a school that operates on a semesters system (two semesters per academic year; eight to graduate), many majors require 32 courses to fulfill all graduation requirements. The most rigorous majors might require 36 courses. While four courses a term is considered a normal load, five is quite manageable for many students. This means that many students are opting out of 4 to 8 courses that they are paying for. At a higher priced private college where tuition & fees charges are presently $25,000 per term, this amounts to a $40,000 give back to the school. It’s no wonder that many colleges have academic policies that award advanced standing for AP’s, IB’s and college coursework completed during high school and it’s more than a little ironic that high school students eagerly hoard these credits in anticipation of using them at college.
What about early graduation?
Disciplined students who are willing to take more courses per term can leverage the flat fee tuition opportunity and their advanced standing credits to graduate in six or seven terms. It requires proactive academic planning and some sacrifices in social life, but the upside in terms of cost savings are huge.
How does it work at schools that charge per credit hour?
You pay for the courses you take – no more, no less.
How is tuition charged in different types of schools?
Community Colleges and Junior Colleges
Tuition is least expensive at community or junior colleges and is usually based upon the credit hours you take each semester or quarter. So, if you only take two classes, you will only be charged for two classes.
State Colleges & Universities
Tuition at most public universities is slightly higher than community or junior colleges. These state schools also charge one tuition rate for in-state students and a higher rate (almost double) for out-of-state students.
Private Colleges & Universities
Private schools typically charge the same tuition rate for all students and generally have the highest Sticker Price. However, many private schools offer significant discounts in the form of institutional grants and scholarships. They also have classroom capacity to allow graduation in four years.
Proprietary (for Profit) Schools
Proprietary schools typically offer courses leading to a certificate and charge students by the credit or clock hour. They are significantly more expensive than a community college or state school and typically do not award institutional grants or scholarships to help reduce the cost of education.
What kind of fees are typically charged by colleges?
Fees are basically tuition by another name. As colleges face increasing pressure to moderate tuition increases, many simply tack on more fees.
There are many different kinds of fees.
Mandatory fees are charged to all students each term and provide access to activities and services. They are not considered user fees and may not be waived. Some typical mandatory fees include:
Computer Fee – For technology-related expenditures that have a direct benefit to students.
Health Service Fee – For access to the on-campus health service facilities.
Student Activity Fee – For designated student clubs & activities.
Many schools charge new students a one-time orientation fee. Other schools charge new students a one-time “matriculation fee.” In recent years, as colleges faced budget shortfalls, students have been charged one-time fees such as a “special institutional fee” an a “temporary repair and maintenance fee”.
Some courses require additional course specific fees. For example, many science courses require a lab fee some art and architecture courses include a materials fee.