Cost to educate varies

The Board of Trustees approves tuition differentials in budget.

Students enrolled in the College of Engineering will get what they pay for this semester.
Tuition rates have increased for engineering students in order to cover the costs of “significant infrastructure needs,” such as new student labs and upgrades to machine shops, said Don Heller, director of finance and administration at the college.

For full-time undergraduate students, tuition increased $400 a year for the next five years. Part-time undergraduate engineering students and part-time graduate students saw their rates increase by $13 and $20 per credit hour, respectively, for the next five years. A 5.9 percent raise was also added to tuition rates for all students, according to the university’s fiscal 2008-2009 budget.

The increases are expected to raise $5.1 million for the college, said Ken Kaiser, university’s associate vice president and chief financial officer. Heller said there are approximately 1,000 students enrolled at the college this semester.

“Tuition differentials are very common in higher education,” said Anthony Wagner, senior vice president and chief financial officer. “It has to do with certain programs having significantly greater costs. Temple hasn’t done this as much, but it’s something we’ll probably think about doing in the future if the need arrives.”

The Fox School of Business and Management and the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management both raised their tuitions last year. The Tyler School of Art and its architecture program also have differential tuitions, along with the Boyer College of Music and Dance and the College of Health Professions.

College of Engineering officials surveyed about 20 engineering schools throughout the country while planning in the spring, Heller said, and found only one college without a differential tuition.
Along with new labs and machine shop upgrades, Heller said the money would pay for graduate student support and additional funding for student groups, such as the Society of Automotive Engineers.

The College of Engineering’s rate increases was passed along with the university’s budget in June, Kaiser said.

Heller said the college looked at other funding sources, like direct funding from the university and from outside sources like alumni or industry, but the differential made the most sense.

“You still have to go out and [look for outside funding],” Heller said. “We continue to do that on a regular basis.”

Shrinking state support made direct university funding unlikely, Kaiser said. State funding increased just 1.5 percent for the 2008-2009 school year, well below the estimated 3.9 percent increase in higher education price inflation. The university has become more reliant on tuition revenue to offset its operating costs.

“One of the beauties of tuition differentials is that it’s really targeted,” Kaiser said. “The student that’s paying for it is really benefiting from it. Could the university have raised tuition for everybody? I guess. But then the other students are paying for [the engineering students].”

Heller said engineering officials met with about 25 student group leaders last spring to get their feedback, and they thought the rate increases were “very reasonable.” He said he is confident that most students know about the rate increases from their student leaders and the university’s Web site.

The infrastructure improvements are expected to impact every student because the engineering curriculum is comprised of core classes that will require them to use the new labs.

Nick Pipitone can be reached at

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