Students inquire about different tuition method

Rachel Abbey

As universities try to balance their budgets, some turn to differential tuition, a practice of charging varying tuition to students in different majors. Majors that are more costly to universities, such as engineering, may pay a higher tuition than history majors.

Kent State currently does not practice differential tuition, said David Creamer, vice president for Administration. At this time, there are no plans to begin.

“Unfortunately, differential tuition will probably come about at most institutions some time in the future,” Creamer said.

But in the future, students will have to bear more responsibility for their education’s funding as state and federal funding for higher education decreases, Creamer said. Some fields of study at Kent State already require additional fees, such as flight training for aeronautics.

Students can see how additional fees for equipment and experience are used, Creamer said. It may not be as obvious where extra tuition dollars go.

For the aeronautics program, fees vary depending which aircraft the student flies and which certificate they are training for, said Isaac Richard Nettey, senior academic program director for aeronautics. There are three certificates: private pilot, commercial pilot and flight instructor.

The fee goes to cover additional costs of flight training.

For example, if a student was studying for a commercial pilot certificate while flying a Cessna 152, they would pay $80 per hour, Nettey said. Students usually have to fly more than 35 hours to complete a certificate.

One reason Kent State does not want to turn to differential tuition is because the administration wants to keep college as affordable as possible for students.

“We look at the fact that students transfer between fields of study,” President Carol Cartwright said. “You don’t want a student to be unable to study a field because they feel they cannot afford it, especially because so many students are struggling to fund college.”

Creamer said while the extra money can help to maintain the quality of a program, it can also turn students away. In majors such as nursing, this can be dangerous.

Nursing is a field important to the public good, he said, but the equipment is expensive. Also, the starting salary for nursing tends to be low, and students may worry about repaying student loans. If the university asked students to bear more of the cost, people might avoid the major.

The aeronautics program tries to keep fees low for students.

“We’ve kept the flight fees the same for two years even though the cost of fuel has skyrocketed,” Nettey said.

Creamer compared rising fee rates and tuition increases to buying a car. Many accessories can be done without, but are necessary to a comfortable ride.

“I’m afraid that our higher education system is going to look more like a retail model than the public good it should be,” he said.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].