Future tuition could vary based on major for some schools
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 23:10
Florida students who major in art might soon start paying more in tuition than students who study mathematics, and Ohio State is paying attention to the proposal.
The recommendation to vary tuition depending on major comes from a state task force created by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. If approved by the State University System of Florida Board of Governors, Florida public universities could make majors in science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM majors, more affordable than arts and humanities majors.
The purpose would be to help Florida’s job market by encouraging more students to major in degrees the state’s economy needs most. The recommendations propose freezing tuition for STEM majors for the next three years. Majors with lower job prospects in the state, like those in the arts and humanities, would cost more in order to make up the difference.
“As with most issues facing institutions of higher education across the nation, we are following with interest the approach that is seemingly growing in popularity across the U.S. that is, using cost of education as a means of engineering student interest in certain majors or areas of study,” said Wayne Carlson, OSU vice provost of undergraduate studies and dean of undergraduate education.
Some opponents of the measure propose just the opposite of the task force’s preliminary recommendations, Carlson said, and suggest charging “engineers more than art students, because their potential income is greater,”
But Carlson said he does not agree with ending the one-size-fits-all approach to tuition.
“I personally see that there is some merit in the use of tuition to motivate certain majors, such as those in STEM fields,” he said. “I’m not personally in favor of the use of differential tuition approaches.”
A better idea would be to prepare students from kindergarten and up to succeed in those majors “rather than using financial incentives”, Carlson said.
Some students, such as Samantha Feck, a fourth-year in communication, do not support the idea to vary tuition based on degree.
“That’s not really fair, especially if you switch majors,” she said. “It’s not fair to say one major is worth more than another.”
However, some students such as Shawn Long, a first-year in science and technology exploration, see the benefits from it.
“It’s a good idea to me,” he said, but added that he can see the unfairness in raising prices on non-STEM majors.
At OSU, the Board of Trustees are the ones who decide on issues related to tuition and fees for students.
There is “no similar line of thinking at this point,” Carlson said. “Although our tuition rate across all undergraduate majors is the same, some majors have certain program fees that reflect the cost of teaching in those majors.
“There are also course and lab fees, for some courses that have specific material requirements that exceed others. This results in a differential cost for some majors, although in no case is it a dramatic difference.”
OSU students from Ohio paid $10,037 in tuition and fees for the 2012-2013 academic year, with out-of-state students paying $25,445, according to an OSU website.
Across the nation, the average cost of tuition and fees increased by 4.8 percent to $8,655 in 2012-13 from $8,256 in 2011-12 for in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities, according to a report from College Board.
The average cost of tuition and fees also increased for out-of-state students by 4