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Michigan Tech Moves to Plateau Tuition

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An aerial view of the Michigan Technological University campus in Houghton. (Michigan Tech photo.)

An aerial view of the Michigan Technological University campus in Houghton. (Michigan Tech photo.)

(credit: istock) Technology Report
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HOUGHTON — Michigan Tech has announced a move to a plateau tuition plan for undergraduates beginning with the fall 2013 semester. The decision to adopt the plateau tuition plan was made by the university’s Financial Data Group after a thorough analysis.

The plateau will be set at 12-18 credit hours. That means undergraduates will pay a flat rate for a course load ranging from 12 to 18 credit hours. In fall 2011, full time undergraduate students on average took 14.7 credits per semester. In fall 2012, the average was 14.6.

The dollar amount of the plateau tuition will be determined at the May meeting of Michigan Tech’s Board of Control, when the Board will set tuition rates for the coming year. The plateau plan does not apply to graduate-level tuition.

Tech joins five other state universities in Michigan that already have adopted plateau tuition plans. They are Northern Michigan University, the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Lake Superior State University.

In a presentation to the Board Finance Committee last week, Les Cook, vice president for student affairs, listed some of the benefits of the plateau tuition plan.:
• Setting tuition for full-time undergraduates near the current 15 credit hour rate allows students to better predict semester tuition bills and allows the University to better project tuition revenue.
• The change may motivate capable students to increase their per-semester class load, shortening their time to graduation.
• A flat rate provides financial incentive for students to pursue second credentials such as a certificate, second major or a minor.
• Moving to this structure provides additional incentive for students to remain at the University for an additional year to earn a master’s degree.
• Plateau tuition encourages students currently transferring credits from online courses (where Michigan Tech has no control over quality of content and instruction) instead to take those courses at Michigan Tech.
• Because students won’t have to pay additional tuition for courses within the 12-18 hour plateau, they will be more likely to explore other academic interests, pursuing courses of interest that may lie outside their immediate major course path.
• Moving to the plateau structure simplifies the add/drop process as well as the payment/refund function for both the student and the University.

“This decision has been made after careful deliberations, including a careful financial analysis,” said Provost Max Seel. “In the end, I believe that the educational benefits—that students can fully explore the college experience and take classes they otherwise would not have taken—carry the argument. Easier financial budget planning is a welcome byproduct.”

During exploration of the idea of a plateau tuition plan, the University encouraged undergraduates to express their opinions about it. Approximately 100 students responded directly to Vice President Cook.  Of those responding, two-thirds favored moving to a plateau rate.

“We believe that plateau tuition will help our students and their families plan better for the costs of their education,” Cook said.

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