Can you afford to miss class?

5 years ago by in 2011, Uncategorized Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

A look at the rising trend of higher college tuition rates in D.C.

College is expensive, and the price has only been going up. Washington, D.C.’s six major private universities are no exception to this rule, but an examination of published tuition and fees over the past ten years reveal unexpected results.

The District’s single public university, the University of the District of Columbia, was excluded from this survey because it has a smaller student population than the majority of doctorate-granting institutions included here. UDC’s tuition also pales in comparison with tuition costing $7,000 for the 2011 academic year, which is an increase of almost 300% over the past decade but still significantly lower than that of private universities. Further, private universities cost, on average, $20,000 more than public universities; in-state tuition at nearby University of Maryland is one example.

How university tuition in the District stacks up to the national average varies just as widely, as reported by the College Board’s annual survey of not-for-profit, four-year universities.
Since 2002, tuition and fees increased above the national average for four of the six large, private D.C. universities: American University, Catholic University, George Washington University, and Georgetown University.Howard University and Gallaudet University, however, consistently remained below the national average for private, four-year universities. In fact, these two schools remained well below the national average by more than $10,000. The disparity holds for all years except the current 2011 academic year, when Howard’s tuition dipped below that margin.

One reason for this difference may be that both schools host a niche student body. Howard is a historically black university while Gallaudet caters to deaf and hard of hearing students. The other universities are known for a broader range of students, even though Catholic and Georgetown are rooted in religious tradition.

In contrast, George Washington not only has the highest tuition in D.C.across all ten years examined in this study, but it also has the largest deviation from the national average—more than $15,000. This deviation would buy a full year’s tuition at Gallaudet with money to spare.

All of the area’s universities’ percent of tuition growth outpaced that of the national average. Gallaudet experienced the least amount of growth, less than 40 percent, whereas Howard experienced the greatest growth by far, more than doubling its price. Both these universities, however, currently cost between $9,000 to nearly $17,000 less than the national average, and are significantly below the tuition rates of the District’s other universities.

After Howard, the largest change from the start of the decade occurred at Catholic and American University. Although George Washington has the highest tuition, it has one of the lowest rates of growth.Gallaudet continues to be the best bargain in the city with the lowest cost of annual tuition compared to other schools. It has stayed consistent on tuition costs when the national –and District-wide– trend is to raise tuition prices. This affordable tuition rate may be one of the reasons it has experienced a boom in hearing students in recent years, as reported by The Washington Post.

Figures for the academic years 2002 through 2010 come from the average full time undergraduate cost for tuition and fees as reported to the National Center for Education Statistics, the data analysis arm of the Department of Education. Tuition and fees for academic year ending 2011 come from the six university websites. Projected tuition for academic year ending 2012 comes from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Average national tuition data comes from the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges for private not-for-profit four-year universities, weighted by full-time undergraduate enrollment. Prices are listed in current dollars without inflation adjustments, and exclude room, board and other costs.
What missing class can cost you

Knowing how much tuition costs have risen during this ten-year period makes the cost of missing class all the more relevant to the person paying the bills.Whether because of an illness, family emergency or a “mental health day,” nearly every student has to miss some class time at some point in his or her program. Few, however, may have calculated how much 15 minutes, an hour or a week’s worth of class time actually costs.

The infographic below illustrates the concept using a breakdown of tuition costs for the four academic divisions at American University. Students enrolled in the undergraduate, graduate, the Kogod School of Business and the Washington College of Law programs pay different amounts for tuition credits. This chart shows that significant differences in cost per credit for each of these programs can seem minimal when broken down into smaller units of time.

However, understanding how quickly those minutes of class add up can give more meaning to the maxim “time is money” – and how much money is wasted every time a student arrives late or can’t make it to a class.

Calculations based on average cost per credit of a typical three credit course, and 2.5 hours of average weekly class time, over the course of 14 weeks (WCL) and 15 weeks (AU undergraduate, graduate and Kogod School of Business).
See this chart for the full breakdown of these statistics.


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