Honors students experience tuition differential

GVL / Sara Carte
Honors students study in the study area of the Honors College on Sept. 22.


GVL / Sara Carte Honors students study in the study area of the Honors College on Sept. 22.

Drew Howard

To cover the costs of Grand Valley State University’s honors program, students accepted into the program are expected to pay an extra $20 per credit hour due to what is called “tuition differential.”

Jeff Chamberlain, director of the Frederik Meijer Honors College, said the tuition differential has been used for a few years now in more programs than just the Honors College.

“Basically, tuition differential is an effort to pay for programs that are more expensive to run without raising tuition for everyone,” Chamberlain said. “For honors, it is $20 additional per credit.”

Other programs at GVSU such as engineering and nursing also work within this tuition differential.

The extra money goes toward paying for the honors program faculty and administrative costs while also affording students smaller class sizes, special advisers, class trips and more.

In order to give more attention to each individual student, the typical class size in the honors program is 16 to 18 students. A regular class at GVSU, however, averages 27 students.

In addition to smaller class sizes, many honors students are given the chance to enroll in classes taught by two professors.

“Team teaching refers to when two professors in a classroom teach the same course,” Chamberlain said. “Most honors students will have more than one professor in their class with extra expertise and perspective. What this does is give students the opportunity to hear more voices than just one.”

This extra cost also affords students the chance to meet with special advisers located within the honors college.

“The honors college has an advising staff due to the unique curriculum,” Chamberlain said. “The advising office is important because students can work with the whole team to help with all sorts of life issues, whether it’s majors they’re interested or how to cope with certain circumstances.”

When looking at the big picture, Chamberlain explained that the additional cost does not amount to much compared to the full cost of operating the Honors College.

“If you are taking 15 credits a semester and 30 credits a year, you are paying roughly $365 per credit per course,” Chamberlain said. “This amounts to about 5 percent additional (tuition) for six credits of honors per semester. The average honors student would pay around $500 extra across four years.”

Chamberlain said a student would actually have to pay close to $60 extra per credit hour to cover the full cost.

“Program costs are widely different depending on faculty, equipment, staff experience, etc.,” Chamberlain said. “No one pays exactly what it costs per program because that cost is distributed across the university.”

Kathy Gulembo, assistant vice president for academic affairs, said the GVSU honors program compares favorably with other Michigan public universities given the quality of the program, its unique curriculum, and the success of GVSU honors students.

Chamberlain added that GVSU continues to try and make classes as affordable as possible despite this small charge increase.

“There’s no malice in asking for extra money, it’s just an effort to make a little bit of a dent,” Chamberlain said. “By asking for a little bit more, the university is able to make attending GVSU more efficient for everyone.”

For more information about the Honors College, visit www.gvsu.edu/honor.