Who’s really benefitting from banded-tuition?

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Tyler Marcotte, left, pictured with Dawnn Lewis, right, before Lewis' speech on arts advocacy on September 7th. PHOTO/Tyler Marcotte
Tyler Marcotte, left, pictured with Dawnn Lewis, right, before Lewis’ speech on arts advocacy on September 7th. PHOTO/Tyler Marcotte

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The real cost of banded tuition

Recently, IU campuses have implemented a banded-tuition policy.

The policy was adopted for the fall semester of 2016. Essentially, a student who enrolls in 12 credit-hours will pay the same tuition as a student who enrolls in 18 credit-hours. In a statement released Nov. 22, Chancellor Terry Allison said IU’s banded tuition is “designed to encourage students to complete 15 credits a semester.”

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education, a state agency that oversees all public universities and colleges in Indiana, urged schools to “select a tuition rate that does not unnecessarily raise tuition for students currently taking 12 credits.”

However, IU’s banded tuition policy did raise prices for these students this fall. Last year, tuition for 12 credits totaled $2,557.20. This year, the same amount of credits cost $3,238.80. That’s not including the rates for out-of-state student costs that jumped from $7,114.56 for 12 credits to $9,043.95 for the same amount of hours.

There was also the revelation for some students that this hasn’t noticeably helped 15 credit-hour students either. In fall of 2015, it cost $3,196.50. Now, it costs $3,238.80 for these students.

While 12 credit-hour students may be more enticed to take 15 credits since it is the same price now, neither of these two sides has benefitted from banded-tuition. Only those enrolled in 16-plus credits will actually benefit from tuition savings.

A student’s take on the policy

This applied encouragement comes at a price for students who are unable or unwilling to break from their 12 to 15 credit-hour schedules at our commuter college.

“When I first started at IUSB, I was paying a little more than $2,500 for my tuition,” said Tyler Marcotte, a junior at IUSB. “Now, I’m paying another almost $700 dollars for the same amount of credit-hours I was taking before.”

While Marcotte’s stance is a common one among IUSB students, there are students that differ in opinion based on their enrolled credit hours.

“I don’t mind the new policy because I am taking six classes anyway,” said senior Collin Holdread. “For me, it’s cheaper than it used to be.”

However, according to IU’s University Institutional Research and Reporting page, under “Enrollment” in their Fact Book, the average credits taken by IUSB’s undergraduate students in their freshman to senior years ranged from 11 to 12.8 credits in fall of 2015. This is the first semester since banded tuition took effect, so students have yet to see if these numbers will increase due to the new policy.

“Honestly, I think it’s defeating its own purpose of encouraging students to finish school,” Marcotte said, “Personally, I cannot go to school for 18 credit-hours due to my job. I had to request more hours at work just to pay for this increase in tuition.”

“Chances are that students have decided on their amount of credits based on what their lifestyle allows time for,” said Holdread. “I don’t think that banded-tuition is fair for students who can only take 12 credits due to their personal circumstances. Students, who weren’t already taking 15 to 18 credits will have to pick up more hours at their job to pay this raised price. That means they’ll have less hours in their day, making it less likely for them to take an extra three credits.”

“Since IU knew this would hurt re-enrolling 12 credit-hour students, and not benefit the re-enrolling 15 credit-hour students either, this new policy should have at least been on an opt-in basis for those who were attending IUSB before the switch,” Marcotte said.

Does banded-tuition belong on a commuter campus?

Another upsetting factor for students is that banded-tuition has been promoted based on its success in larger-scale universities for years. While it’s clear that these universities have found success in the policy, IUSB is known for its commuter campus status and its students differ in lifestyle from those at major universities.

IUSB’s website states, “Banded tuition has been in place at Indiana University Bloomington for more than 20 years and is also used at Purdue University-West Lafayette, Ball State University, Indiana State University, and other colleges and universities.”

Again, according to University Institutional Research and Reporting, the average credits taken by IU Bloomington’s undergraduate students in their freshman to senior years ranged from 14.2 to 15 in the fall of 2015.

Some students feel that IU Bloomington is forcing these decisions upon IUSB, instead of IUSB making the decision directly.

“The funny thing about the fact that they’re using a well-known policy from major universities is that IUSB is not a major university,” Marcotte said, “There is a reason that students come to IUSB and not IU Bloomington. We don’t have the freedom to move away from our homes and our jobs. Much like we don’t have the freedom to take three to six extra credits and still be successful.”

Despite the differences in opinion of whether this new policy is beneficial or not, students agree that IUSB should be considered as a separate entity when deciding upon costly policy changes. The idea of IUSB having to be the same as its larger counterpart causes a stir for 12 credit-hour to 18 credit-hour students alike.

“While this does benefit me, I don’t think my situation is the norm here at IUSB,” said Holdread. “I would like to see a fair, unbiased survey at the end of this school year to see how many students are truly benefitting from this change compared to those who are only paying more in the long run.”

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