University cuts tuition block

Grand Valley State University has lowered block credit from 16 tp 15 credit hours, causing students to have to pay more.

Eric Coulter

Grand Valley State University has lowered block credit from 16 tp 15 credit hours, causing students to have to pay more.

Samantha Butcher

Scheduling began Monday for Grand Valley State University students, but many are unaware that taking a full, 16-credit load will come with extra charges for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Beginning in the Fall 2011 semester, the block tuition rate will drop from 12 to 16 credits down to 12 to 15 credits in a move that Jim Bachmeier, vice president for finance and administration, said will generate about $3 million for the university.

Funds generated by the change will be used to limit next year’s tuition rate increase.

“At the end of the day, I need to generate a certain amount of money to run the place,” Bachmeier said. “…Last year we raised tuition by 5.3 percent, for example, but by having that shift in the block, we could raise tuition by 3.3 percent instead. And so I can’t talk about (the financial impact) in terms of an absolute impact as much as it is a reshuffling of the revenue.”

However, most students are unaware of the change, which was decided in the July 2010 Board of Trustees meeting.

Eric Sherbinski, a resident assistant in Kistler Living Center, said many of his residents are in the dark about the shift.

“As far as I know, only those who get emails from select advisers know about it,” he said. “Many, including myself, have never heard about it before … There has been little or no say when it comes to advertisements, emails, having resident assistants spread the word or notifications in MyBanner or on the homepage.”

Currently, there are 4,167 students taking 16 or more credits, according to data from the Office of Institutional Analysis. Under the current tuition rates, those students would have to pay between $395 and $591 for the additional credit, depending on the number of credits earned and their residency status.

Bachmeier said the change in the block has been considered by the administration for at least 15 years.

“As tuition has become the larger portion of the college bill, state appropriations being the smaller portion, (decreasing the block) has become more significant and thus more compelling,” he said.

Bachmeier added that decreasing the tuition block will result in lower tuition for part-time students and students who take between 12 and 15 credits.

“If you’re taking 16 or 17 hours, reducing this block is a bad thing for you, so there are winners and losers,” he said.

Although the change could affect scheduling for students like Sherbinski, who originally planned to take 16 credits next semester, there has been no campus-wide notification, and nothing has been posted on MyBanner or MyPath.

Upon learning of the change, Sherbinski cut back the number of credits he plans to take next year.

“Anyone who is at the 13-credit mark will have to either be behind in their schooling, or pay extra,” Sherbinski said. “It’s making it even harder than it already is to graduate in four years, which is unfair to students.”

Bachmeier said the lack of publicity was an oversight on the part of the administration.

“I feel bad about that, because … at the time we made the change, which was last year at the July Board meeting, it seemed so far into the future that it wasn’t relevant to people because they weren’t selecting classes and trying to decide whether they want a big or small course load, so it didn’t rise to the surface because it didn’t seem relevant,” Bachmeier said. “And now that it is really quite relevant, it didn’t get publicized because it was so old that those of us who work around it have taken it for granted that we’ve known about it for a year and didn’t talk about it. So at some level, it wasn’t well publicized because we didn’t do as good a job as we could have or should have to publicize it.”

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