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June 27, 2013 3:30 PM Cleveland State’s Creative New Tuition Idea

By Daniel Luzer

Colleges are increasing tuition this year, as they do every year. But one Ohio college’s tuition hike comes with an interesting footnote. It’ll offer a big discount to students who earn credits as expected.

According to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Cleveland State University undergraduates will see a 2-percent tuition increase this fall but can get it back as a credit on the next year’s tuition through an innovative program approved Wednesday by university trustees.
Beginning in the fall, students who complete 30 course credits in an academic year in good standing can earn the rebate for the following year. Students also will receive $100 per semester in book credits.

The interesting thing about this particular program is that 30 credits a year is, of course, a normal course load. Students attend school for two semesters a year and earn about 15 credits a semester. But many students at Cleveland State aren’t doing that now. Only about a third of CSU’s full-time freshmen get a bachelor’s degree in six years. By cutting students a break on tuition the college hopes to encourage higher completion.

And more state funding. As the article explains, in the future funding for Ohio’s state institution of higher will be to performance based, determined using “retention and graduation rates.”

CSU Trustee Dan Moore told the Plain Dealer he thought the new plan was “a thoughtful, aggressive discounting technique.” Well that’s one way to think of it. Since tuition will, through the rebate, basically not increase for students earning 30 credits a year, another way to think of the plan is just that Cleveland is increasing the cost for students who don’t earn enough credits.

It’s not really a discount plan at all; it’s just an extra fee for struggling students. The plan will likely be a pretty strong way of encouraging students to earn credits on time, however.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer