Banded Tuition Costs More Than Just Money

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With a new flat rate tuition being implemented in the 2016-2017 school year, IUPUI students taking less than 15 credits a semester will end up paying for nothing.

By Leighann Strollo 1/29/16

If there is one thing that almost all college students have in common, it’s that they are poor. If they don’t have to pay for something, they’d rather not, so when colleges implement a rule that would allow for students to pay for more credit hours than they are actually taking, it’s going to evoke a negative reaction.

15 to Finish: IN

On Nov. 19, 2015 IUPUI students received an email from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor stating that,“IUPUI will offer banded (flat rate) tuition for all undergraduates starting with the 2016–2017 academic year.”

It went on to explain that banded tuition is a flat rate tuition at the rate of 15 credit hours that every undergraduate student with credit hours ranging from 12 to 18 will pay. They even created a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page and directed students to it through the email.

The overall tone of the announcement is very positive, claiming that the new rule will benefit more students than not. However, if a student is taking less than 15 credit hours, it is not benefitting them at all. It has quite the opposite effect actually.

“@IUPUI fulfilling the purpose of putting students in debt. Yay banded tuition! #IU” tweeted Pedro Lara, a student at IUPUI.

According to Indiana University Chancellor Terry Allison, it is designed to “encourage students to take 15 credits a semester and reward those who take more than 15 credits with tuition saving.” The new program does have a positive effect on students if they take 16-18 credits in a semester, they will be saving money.

But what about those who can’t take 15 or more credit hours? “We hope that students will view this as an opportunity to take courses for personal enrichment or to couple their major with minors or certificate – or to complete for-credit internships. Ultimately staying enrolled in 15 credits per semester ensures that students complete their degrees in four years, as well as reduces opportunity  costs associated with taking longer to graduate (i.e., students enter the workforce sooner, incurring less debt),” Dr. Kathy Johnson, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor said. But this still doesn’t address the concerns of students who feel taking 15 credits hours is too much to handle.

In the original email, it is mentioned that IU already uses banded tuition, instead of a per credit rate and things seem to work smoothly, but transferring it to IUPUI might not. IUPUI is known as a bigger commuter school than any of the other major colleges in Indiana. For most students, they have families, jobs, and long commutes. This cuts into time that can be devoted solely to school. All these factors contributes to why students may not be able to take 15 credits or more, regardless of the cost.

“I don’t get it because my advisor planned out my schedule for until I graduate, and she made it so I have four semesters with twelve or thirteen credits. I’m just lost,” an IUPUI student said at an open mic event about student debt.

Another student expressed anger that she had internships set up for certain semesters, so she was taking less credits. “It’s like a win-lose. Bittersweet.” For some it is not as simple as taking 15 or more credits a semester.

“All departments and programs were required to develop degree maps that included at least 15 credits per semester during the first, second and third years,” Dr. Johnson replied.

Paying for college can be a huge hassle to students and with make devastating sacrifices to get a degree. The IU schools switching to banded tuition is a huge blow to students who take less than 15 credits in a semester and can’t afford to hand over any more money than what they already pay.

For a lot of students this will mean they have to completely rearrange their semester outlines in order to make the most of the banded tuition program.

At a school like IUPUI where certain degrees aren’t offered anywhere else in the world, it is isolating to students who can’t turn anywhere else for their degree. Also, out-of-state students pay almost triple per credit hour what in-state students do.

According to the Office of Bursar, 15 credits for in state students is $3,196.50.For out of state students it is $14,280.40 at a rate of $952 per credit. With the new banded tuition policy, an out of state student taking 12 credit hours would be paying $2,850 more than they would at a per credit rate.

The banded tuition will not begin until fall of 2016.



Youngblood, Dan <>

Sent:Tue 12/15/2015 11:40 AM

Q: Is there any way to opt out of banded tuition if a student is consistently taking less than 15 credit hours (still 12 or above though)?

A: We are in the process of developing a business process to support the transition to banded tuition during the 2016-17 academic year only. It is likely that students with demonstrated unmet financial need (who have a current FASFA on file) who complete the academic unit application to graduation form process, who are eligible to graduate in December 2016 or May 2017,  and who need more than 11 but fewer than 15 credits to graduate may receive a grant that will cover the difference between the cost of banded tuition rate and the per credit hour rate for the number of credits that the student will take to complete degree requirements. This grant application will be made available in the Spring 2016 semester for Fall 2016.

Q: In the original email sent to students, it was said that 'seven in 10 students at Indiana public institutions that charge banded tuition take 15 credit hours in a semester compared to two in 10 at institutions that charge by the credit hour.' When was this study given, and which public institutions were polled?

A: This is a finding published in a report completed by the Commission for Higher Education, entitled Indiana Education Insight: A la carte or buffet style tuition (September 15, 2014) – see CHE Agenda – p. 36. Following this report, the finding has been referenced in the CHE publication entitled, Reforming Student Financial Aid to Increase College Completion

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