Tuition Cuts May Not Convince Students to Take Summer Classes

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USF recently announced the reduction of tuition rates by one third for summer 2010, making the cost of each unit $860. This is good news for many USF students who are struggling to pay for the full cost of tuition during the spring and fall semesters. In addition to the cut in tuition, several colleges are offering more classes and expanding class diversity by adding major-specific courses. Jennifer Turpin, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says these changes are taking place in order to help students graduate on time.

The Foghorn thinks this is an excellent opportunity for  certain students to save on time and money, while still getting the quality education that USF offers during the regular school year.

We also believe the discounted rate will benefit the university. Increased summer session enrollment will increase university revenue in the short term (even with the reductions) by causing more students to take summer classes. This increase in revenue may help to gloss over any financial shortcomings that the recession has caused within the university.

Dean Turpin also notes that students who take a full summer session (16 credits), can get ahead by an entire semester, making it more possible to graduate early or study abroad. In this economy, any opportunity to save on tuition is worth considering.

Although USF’s reduction in tuition is certainly appreciated, an obvious discrepancy still exists between USF’s tuition and the tuition of other bay area schools. At fellow Jesuit school Santa Clara, each summer unit has been reduced to just $500. At San Francisco State University each summer unit costs only $280. Budget cuts to state schools, however, are limiting the amount of summer classes available. The University of California at Berkeley is charging $292 per unit this summer, with additional registration fees. After this comparison, USF’s tuition reduction seems a little bit less impressive, and students will probably still struggle to afford summer school.

In addition to summer tuition, students must factor in the other costs of taking summer classes. First, out-of-state students who would normally be living at home over the summer, would need to find a place to live in San Francisco. The cost of rent in the city (compared to living at home for free) may be enough to keep students from enrolling. Second, students do not receive a free bus pass over the summer. Although each bus ride is only $2.00, small fees like this can add up over time and have a big impact on student finances.  Third, many students help pay for their education during the spring and fall semesters by working at full time summer jobs. These jobs will most likely conflict with summer school and cause students to lose income. Most importantly, summer tuition is not covered by most scholarships and financial aid packages, and the government does not allocate funds for work study jobs during the summer months.

Although the Foghorn thinks that summer school is a very valuable component of higher education, students may not have the resources this summer to embrace the opportunities summer school could present them. At this point in time, graduating early (or even on time) is less of a priority for most students than saving money and working during the summer. For those students who have the resources to benefit from USF’s expanded summer programs, summer school is an excellent chance to get ahead. Unfortunately for many students the minor reduction in tuition rates will not be a big enough incentive to enroll in summer school.

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