STEM Degrees Cost More with Differential Tuition Pricing

There’s been a trend gaining momentum since 2006, and you can bet that students who are studying math, science, and business degrees are not going to be happy about it. In the past six years, more than 140 public universities have started using “differential tuition” prices to charge students more money to take these types of classes. The schools are arguing that because these classes cost more to teach – due to technological updates – they should be able to charge students more money to take them.
“[The differential tuition pricing has] been a lifesaver,” said Donde Plowman, the dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska. The school recently started charging business and engineering majors an additional $50/credit hour for classes. “We can be excited for the future.”
Perhaps the reason that business and engineering students have not been protesting this increase is because the money is being put to good use. So far, a new career center has been created with the new funds. A student lounge has also been renovated and a new academic advisor has been hired to help students plan their academic careers. New faculty members have also been hired, which means that students are better able to interact with faculty members and professors on a one-to-one basis.
Sadly, with the cost of a higher education already making it unobtainable to some students, many people are wondering if differential tuition will make certain degrees unobtainable as well.
“The fear in all of this is will it lead to people being rationed out of classes?” asked Ronald Ehrenberg. Ehrenberg is a researcher at Cornell who has been studying this new trend.
However, those who support the new tuition pricing system claim that students who study these fields are going to have higher paying jobs after graduation. So, it would make sense that these students will be able to pay back their debts more easily – even if their classes cost more – than a student who studies a cheaper degree but does not make as much money after graduation.
There’s also the emotional appeal that many people use, like Florida State University President Eric Barron. “Would you decide not to follow what you’re most interested in if it cost $500 more?”
Personally, I’m not sure what to think about this new trend. On one hand, I can see why students should pay more for a degree that costs more to teach. If you want to study technology and have the newest technological advances as part of your curriculum, you should have to pay for them. However, if you are paying your way through college and attending a public school. You probably won’t want to pay any more than you already have to in order to earn a degree. It’s a tricky subject.
What do you think schools should be doing about differential tuition pricing? Is it the best thing since sliced bread or a way for schools to take even more of their students’ money? Tell us your opinion in the comments section below.
Via USA Today
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