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Should Schools Do Away with In-State Tuition?

Aug 31, 2011

Recently, ''The Chronicle of Higher Education'' published a commentary from a University of Colorado at Boulder professor, Roger Pielke, Jr. Pielke suggests that public universities consider instilling flat-rate tuitions and do away with the financial variances brought about by in-state and out-of-state college fees. The Education Insider takes a look at what this type of change could mean.

By Erin Tigro

Possible Pros of Flat-Rate Tuition

In the article, Pielke mentions that approximately 67% of UC Boulder undergraduates are charged resident tuition. He suggests that state schools make money on the majority of their attendees by charging fees somewhere in between in-state and out-of-state rates. He offers this example: Colorado residents attending UC Boulder pay less than $8,000 annually while out-of-state residents pay nearly $30,000. By instilling a $14,000 tuition regardless of residency for the school's approximately 26,000 students, the institution could be able to raise more money. The revised price tag could also potentially draw more out-of-state applicants who might have previously been out of the university's non-resident tuition ballpark. What's more, raising tuition across the board could lead to:

  • Increased state revenues
  • Higher quality education for more students
  • More availability of college courses
  • Stronger campus research facilities
  • An increase in modern instructional technologies
  • Hiring and retention of more university faculty members
  • Nondiscrimination of cost for state residents who are non-U.S. citizens

Potential Cons of Flat-Rate Tuition

First, the basis of a flat-fee tuition must be established. Would the premise be that students take on 15 credits each semester? If so, how would this affect those who might not be able to undertake such an extensive course load? After these uncertainties are answered, others remain. As with any personal, professional or organizational change, with benefits there are also negatives to consider and weigh.

  • Could a one-fee tuition structure negatively impact residents who can only afford to pay in-state fees?
    • Would such a change deter college-ready individuals from pursuing a 4-year degree altogether and convince them to just enter the workforce?
  • Would impending college students opt to pursue more affordable and less lengthy technical certificates or associate's degrees?
    • According to a 2010 compilation by College Board, the average cost to attend U.S. public 2-year colleges was just over $2,700 annually.
  • Could making college more costly for many contribute to the rise in student loan delinquency?

Continue reading for tuition comparisons of several top state colleges and private universities.


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