Board of Governors approves simplified tuition and fee structure

Strengthening Marshall University’s commitment to its students, the institution’s Board of Governors last week approved a simplified tuition and fee structure, to become effective with the fall semester.

“Marshall University has always been a great value for students,” said Interim President Gary G. White. “This new, easier-to-understand tuition and fee model will serve to further reinforce the value of our degree programs and our entire institution.”

The new structure will allow prospective students to quickly and easily compare the cost of a Marshall University degree program with that of other higher education institutions. It also will help students and their families plan for the cost of attending Marshall because they will be able to better predict the amount they will pay.

According to Chief Financial Officer Mary Ellen Heuton, most course and lab fees, as well as all off-campus and regional campus fees, will be eliminated under the new model. Instead, students’ fees will be based on the college in which their major is housed and their specific program.

She said that currently there are numerous variables that determine how much a student pays and the rates can be complicated. With the new model, as long as a student knows which university college and program they are in and whether they are a resident, non-resident, metro or distance student, they will be able to look at a simple chart and see exactly what their tuition and fees will be.

Heuton emphasized that the change for resident students—who make up three-quarters of the student body—will be minimal.

“The new structure is intended to be revenue-neutral,” she said. “The students who will be most affected are non-resident students who have been doing some of their coursework online through e-courses. Under the current model, many of these students have not been paying the published tuition rate students taking all their courses on campus pay. The new structure also will help students focus on educational outcomes rather than making decisions based on what are presently widely varying course-by-course costs.”

She added that the decision to move to the simplified model extends the university’s goal of full transparency.

“Every student who is considering Marshall University deserves to know exactly what the cost of their degree will be. We owe it to our students to be as upfront as possible regarding our pricing,” she said.

Student Government Association President Duncan Waugaman said he was involved in helping to formulate the new structure and thinks the streamlined model will benefit students.

“The best thing about this new model is that it simplifies tuition and fees for all students,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing students want and need—something that’s easier to understand and predict their costs.”

The board is expected to consider tuition and fee amounts and a budget for fiscal year 2016 at an upcoming meeting.

At the meeting, White pledged that despite continuing budget cuts from the state, the board will receive a balanced budget for consideration and that it should not be necessary to dip into the university’s reserves to achieve a balanced budget.

He credited the ongoing Marshall 2020 strategic planning process for ensuring that the university will remain in strong financial shape, pointing out the work of teams from across the university that are identifying and helping to implement opportunities to save money while improving services.

“Thanks to the work of countless committed people in the Marshall community, we are in excellent financial position to take advantage of the changes coming to the funding of public higher education,” he said. “If our projected savings can be achieved, we think we can balance the budget and keep our commitment to salary increases for qualifying faculty and staff, all without using our reserves.”

Also at the meeting, the board affirmed a set of institutional priorities to guide the transition to new presidential leadership and direct the ongoing growth and development of the university. Members also approved proposals to plan two new degree programs—a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and a master of science in clinical and translational science.

The board also signed off on a new purchasing policy and amendments to the university’s policy for disposing of surplus computers, and Provost Gayle Ormiston and English professor Dr. David Hatfield presented information about the process for the university’s upcoming accreditation review by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). A site team from HLC is scheduled to visit campus in October.

In addition, board members received a fall enrollment update from Dr. Beth Wolfe, director of recruiting. She reported that the number of admitted freshmen is up for fall and is the highest it has been in at least eight years at this point in the spring semester. Freshman deposits for fall also are up by nearly 100 students over the same time last spring.