Aligning graduate tuition structure with strategic goals

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Aligning graduate tuition structure with strategic goals

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Executive Director for Financial Planning & Associate Treasurer; Colorado School of Mines

I am primarily responsible for strategic financial operations including budgeting and long-term financial planning, balance sheet management, capital financing, and other strategic initiatives. I support the launch new programs, initiatives and partnerships by providing financial analysis to key decision makers across the University

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EAB.

Like many institutions, Mines’ is facing budget pressures and increasing reliance on undergraduate tuition revenues. We are seeking out alternative revenue streams in order to diversify our revenue profile. Growing enrollment in graduate non-thesis master’s and online graduate programs is one of these potential revenue streams and part of our strategic plan.

In this project, we asked ourselves: Is our graduate tuition structure aligned with the strategic goal of growing enrollment in graduate non-thesis master’s and online graduate programs? As part of this evaluation, I examined our tuition respect using the following criteria:

  • Competitiveness
  • Structure
  • Equity
  • Alignment with Online Rate
  • Alignment with Cost of Instruction

I found that our tuition was at the high end of our public peer set (unadjusted for any discounting). Our pricing structure included a full-time flat rate (or window/plateau) that made it much cheaper for students to earn a 30-credit degree on a full-time basis compared to the cost of going part-time. Furthermore, once students reached the threshold for full-time status, they could take additional credits at no-cost, which was not consistent with the cost of providing instruction and academic support for those credit hours.

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As a proposed solution, I recommended that the institution move to a per-credit pricing structure (i.e., remove the full-time window/plateau). This would allow us to lower the per-credit cost for students taking fewer credits per semester, making us more competitive to those students as well as move us towards more equitable pricing between full-time and part-time students. Moreover, a flat per-credit pricing structure would be more aligned with the cost of instruction and would be consistent with our current online pricing which is a flat per-credit rate.

This project required support from the Budget Team at Mines, the Dean of Graduate Studies and the insight from many in Academic Affairs and Finance, Administration & Operations. Also extremely helpful were meetings with EAB researchers and other fellows in the program. I look forward to moving these recommendations towards implementation.

See the fellows' blogs from the capstone projects

Amy Capolupo and others participated in the Spring 2021 EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship

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