UF may start charging market rate for some tuition

The five programs that would be affected are aimed at working professionals and are offered largely online or at locations off the main campus.


Published: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 5:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 10:35 p.m.

University of Florida trustees moved forward Friday with plans to charge market-rate tuition for five graduate programs.

Facts

Market-rate programs

UF is seeking to charge market-rate tuition for five graduate programs:

  • Doctorate of audiology

  • Master of business administration

  • Outreach engineering management

  • Pharmaceutical sciences clinical doctorate

  • Pharmaceutical sciences master of science

The five programs are aimed at working professionals and are offered largely online or at locations off the UF campus. The Florida Board of Governors must give final approval before the university can start charging higher rates.

UF and other state universities had previously been restricted by state law to charging tuition rates only enough to recover program costs. UF Provost Joe Glover said the change would mean new revenue for the university at no cost to the state.

The university would have an incentive to keep costs for the programs at an affordable rate, he said.

"The fact that it's market-based means by definition that it's affordable," he said, "because if we try to charge too much money, then enrollment would drop off and people would simply go to other programs."

State lawmakers last year granted state universities the power to seek market rates for graduate-level distance and continuing education programs. A vote Friday by UF trustees only established the programs for which the university would seek such rates.

The Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, meets later this month to decide on a framework for universities to apply for such permission. The board would approve the actual programs and their costs at a later date.

In addition to UF, Florida State University also is seeking to charge market rates for five programs, including its online master of business administration program.

Interim FSU Provost Bob Bradley said out-of-state universities are offering MBA programs in Florida at much higher rates, such as the University of North Carolina charging seven times as much, while the in-state programs have been kept artificially low.

"They've been getting a deal subsidized by the taxpayers of Florida," he said.

Charging market rates would actually improve access, he said, providing money for the university to spend developing other programs.

Each of the UF programs has substantial demand, Glover said. He said market studies will be done for each program to determine their tuition rates.

He said competing online programs — such as MBA programs offered by numerous schools — will help ensure the UF rates are reasonable.

"If we attempted to become too expensive or to out-price the market, people would simply vote with their feet and go to a different program," he said.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com.

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