Utah State University Eastern is contemplating an increase to the College's non-resident tuition rate beginning fall semester 2015 to bring the numbers closer in line with its peer institutions.
A "Truth in Tuition Hearing" to discuss the proposal is set for March 4 at noon in the Alumni Room of the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center on the Price campus and will be simultaneously broadcast to the USU Eastern Blanding campus. Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited and encouraged to attend the hearing.
There are two rate basis for tuition " resident, for students who live in Utah, and non-resident, for students who come to Utah from other states and nations. USU Eastern's resident tuition has historically stayed fairly even with the tuition rates of Utah's community colleges. Its non-resident tuition, however, is by far the lowest rate in the region - approximately 52 percent of non-resident tuition in Utah's community colleges. A USU Eastern non-resident student currently pays $2,751 in tuition compared to $5,297 at Salt Lake Community College and $5,166 at Snow College, Peterson said.
The College proposes to increase non-resident tuition at USU Eastern to $4,300 per semester, effective Fall 2015, 18 months from now. While this new rate would still be the lowest in the state, the increase would bring the numbers more in line with Utah's community colleges from 52 percent to approximately 80 percent of their non-Utah student rates.
"At USU Eastern we're asking whether our tuition pricing strategy serves us well," Peterson said. "We are well aware that pricing has implications for enrollment success as well as operating revenue. Like our peers, we try to find the best mix of enrollment success and operating revenue."
While the increase would ding USU Eastern's non-resident pricing advantage, it would also bring in additional much-needed revenue that would allow the college to increase the quality of its programs and services, he said.
The price discrepancy between USU Eastern and its peers dates back to 2008 when the college reduced tuition and fee rates for non-resident students. The rationale for the reduction six years ago was that the competitive pricing advantage would increase the volume of non-resident students, making up for lost revenue, Peterson said.
But that has not quite panned out. "Despite the competitive cost advantage, the college has not attracted a large number of non-Utah students," he said. "It certainly did not generate enough enrollment volume to compensate for lost revenue. The lower tuition rate has significantly impacted the college's ability to operate."
In light of how substantial the proposed increase is, Peterson said he wants to take every opportunity to communicate with students and prospective students well in advance of any implementation.
"The ramifications of this are significant," he said. "Because we want to allow enough time for everyone to carefully study the issues, we will wait more than a year before we make the change."