UW shifts tuition model, hikes prices
September 22, 2022
LARAMIE — The way University of Wyoming students and administrators approach tuition will change next year.
The UW Board of Trustees gave the green light for two recommendations from administrators Thursday: increase tuition by 4% and transition to a block tuition model starting in the 2023-24 school year.
While students now pay tuition per credit hour they take, a block tuition model will introduce a lump sum students pay regardless of the number of credits. Block tuition rates will be the norm for any undergraduate student taking 12-18 credits or graduate student taking nine to 12 credits.
The change is meant to add transparency to the cost of a college education and encourage students to take at least 15 credits per semester — the target amount needed to graduate within four years.
The idea is that because the cost is the same regardless of the number of credits, students will feel encouraged to take more classes or drop a class if things aren’t working out.
“There are lots of studies that show that when students can take that full load…the likelihood that they are going to graduate on time or early is significantly increased,” said Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Kyle Moore.
Increasing student graduation rates has been a point of focus for the board as UW trustees work with university administration to increase competitiveness across campus.
Trustee Kermit Brown said the university should work with students to make sure they understand the full cost of their education and the implications that come with taking out student loans.
During the same meeting, trustees approved a 4% increase in tuition for most graduate and undergraduate programs that will go into effect for the 2023-24 school year.
It is university policy to increase tuition by 4% every four years. This increase is meant to help make adjustments for inflation, said Deputy Vice President of Budget and Finance Alex Kean.
During the current academic year, a Wyoming resident undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours pays $2400 in tuition for a semester, according to the university. The board’s actions will increase the cost to $2490 per semester starting next fall.
Under the block tuition change, that will be the tuition level for all resident students taking between 12-18 credits.
A nonresident undergraduate taking 15 credits now pays $9975 in tuition per semester. That will increase to $10,380 next fall with all nonresident students taking 12-18 credits will pay the same amount.
Even with the increases, UW reports its tuition rate for resident undergraduates will remain among the lowest in the nation, and nonresident tuition also will be comparatively low.
There was some debate among the board over which programs would see an increase and which would be exempt. This includes the College of Law and certain nursing and business programs.
Board of Trustees Chairman John McKinley raised the concern that the cost of the programs that don’t experience a tuition increase would burden the others that do.
Kean said that the recommendation not to increase costs came from market assessments showing students would be less likely to enter the program if they had to pay more.
“With the increases, the marketability and the price points of those programs gets to the point that they will have trouble attracting people,” Kean said.
Other trustees raised concerns over a potential tuition increase, noting that it could add to challenges the state is facing with employee shortages, especially when it comes to teachers.
“I look at the trouble that we’re in in K-12 education and teaching, and now we’re going to charge more money for them to pursue that. I don’t think that is going to help with the shortage,” said Trustee Brad Bonner.
Others argued that programs like the College of Education would benefit from a tuition increase to add to their already strained operational budgets.
“When we established this guideline, they hadn’t had an increase in tuition in eight or nine years, and we were really underwater,” said Trustee Dave True. “You still have to have the resources out there to put out the quality of graduate that you really need.”
The Board of Trustees did not make a decision on differential tuition rates but plans to consider the issue again during its meeting Oct. 12.