Beginning this semester, graduate students in the College of Nursing at Ohio State will see a $6,000 increase in their tuition.
The 32.2 percent fee increase will affect approximately 1,000 current clinical graduate students this year, Phil Saken, College of Nursing senior director of marketing and communications, said. The change in tuition will apply to students returning to the program, as well as first-year graduate students.
The jump in yearly tuition from $18,637 to $24,637 was approved in a Board of Trustees meeting July 10, and Dean of the College of Nursing Bernadette Melnyk said the increase was both overdue and needed to preserve the standard the college currently operates at.
“We have not raised fees for five years, so it needed to be done in order to maintain the quality of our programming,” Melnyk said.
In an effort to combat financial stressors triggered by the sudden increase, Melnyk created a “hardship fund.” She said the fund awarded scholarships to every person who applied by the deadline, totaling over $350,000.
The Lantern reached out to multiple nursing graduate students, all of whom declined to comment.
Melnyk said the $6,000 increase will go toward clinical hour payment, the maintenance of small student-to-faculty ratios, mental health promotion and equipment upgrades.
All clinical graduate students are required to complete clinical experiences — “hands on” practicums — at a healthcare practice. Melnyk said in previous years, students have been able to complete their clinical hours at agencies that don’t charge for the experience, but this year some agencies are no longer free, including the Cleveland Clinic, which now charges per hour.
Another reason for the spike in tuition was an effort to maintain the small class sizes clinical nursing programs require, Melnyk said. To preserve the faculty-to-student ratio, she said part of the fee increase will go toward new faculty and staff.
“Unlike some undergraduate programs that you can put 150 students in a lecture hall, for a clinical program like ours, our accreditation bodies require a ratio of one faculty to six to eight students,” she said.
The climb in cost came as a surprise to the Buckeye Student Nurses Association, an organization that aims to “organize, represent, and mentor students” preparing for Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, according to the university student activities website.
The Lantern contacted the association regarding how the increase may impact the nursing community at Ohio State, and a representative said in an email that no one in the organization knew about the change and declined to be interviewed.
As a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, Melnyk said she wanted to ensure the well-being of her students. In an effort to maintain the mental health of the nursing students, the college wanted to develop a budget with room for an additional mental health counselor.
High-fidelity simulation, which allows students to practice procedures on mannequins, needed an upgrade as well. Melnyk said the mannequins become worn out over the years and lose some of their effectiveness, and this year’s tuition increase will go towards covering the update.
Melnyk said only the graduate clinical programs will be affected by the change, and though the spike in tuition is necessary, she anticipated it to be challenging for students.