Pros, cons of proposed tuition model

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Story by Bailey BohannanStaff writer

The new proposed tuition model, as outlined to the university community in a recent email sent on behalf of President Bob Davies, includes a new scholarship model and tuition that will charge a discounted rate based on residency for students taking above 12 to 15 credit hours.

The proposed model is similar to models adapted by other Kentucky universities.

After Murray State was advised by McGuire, an international enrollment consulting company, to switch to a per-credit-hour tuition model, the university reviewed the model for other schools such as Northern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, Kentucky State and Morehead State, said Jackie Dudley, the vice president of finance at Murray State.

Morehead State is one of the schools that used the proposed model. For five years, Morehead State had this model before switching to a “cap at 12” or full-time model in the fall of 2013. Morehead State switched to the full-time rate because the hourly tuition model had too many complications with the software, communication and students dropping classes said Beth Patrick, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration at Morehead State.

“One of the primary reasons was due to the complications that we were having with financial aid and processing the billing for financial aid on the per-credit-hour model,” Patrick said.

Morehead State switched models in order to simplify tuition and financial aid.

“We simplified the billing for our students,” Patrick said. “We were having difficulties when students would drop or add a class just in the whole communications of it, and sometimes in the processes of it. For example, we would have to adjust scholarship awards for full tuition scholarships students who would drop or add a class, that would change their scholarship to cover their whole tuition and it just got confusing and a little difficult.”

Patrick said there were pros and cons with that model as well as the full-time model.

Students including Erin O’Donnell from Louisville, Kentucky, Emily Hoard from Metropolis, Illinois, Larrin Moody from Madisonville, Kentucky and Lidia Powell form Murray, all freshmen, said enrollment or graduation declines could be a worry for Murray State in the future because of the model.

However, Dudley said that other universities have had a decrease in enrollment, but not due to the tuition model that charges students for credit hours above 12.

“In the analysis that we have been running we do not see [declining enrollment or graduation rates] happening,” she said.

There are advantages and disadvantages for every tuition and scholarship model, Patrick said. The full-time model benefits certain students, and the per-credit-hour model benefits others.

“There were pros and cons with [the per-credit-hour] model just as there are pros and cons of the full-time model, I liked it specifically because I believed it was a more fair model for part-time students,” Patrick said.

Dudley said she sees more pros than cons for this new model. The cons being students and faculty having to adjust to the new model, but the pros highly outweigh the cons.

“We want to be of value to students for what we offer,” Dudley said. “We offer quality education, but that is not necessarily correlated with being the cheapest institution, and that is really a big driver. They’re trying to get our price to be more reflective of what we are providing.”