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News Clips 01/23/2013
Students may have to pay more for online classes
Source: Eagle News, 01/23/13
View Original Article
By Veronica Vela and Megan Hoolihan
Online classes may be a click away, but that convenience could soon cost students more money.
“FGCU will continue to enhance its offerings, but to do so, we will be
looking at the need to provide additional resources,” Provost Ronald Toll said at the Jan. 13 Board of Trustees meeting.
Information presented by Toll showed that Florida Gulf Coast University is missing out on a large portion of money by charging distance learners the same amount of money as students taking traditional face-to-face classes.
“I’m shocked to find out that we are not charging for the online distance learning,” said Chairwoman Robbie Roepstorff.
Toll revealed at the meeting that administrative costs for distance learning, not including salaries, costs the University an extra $719,978 annually. Those costs include software, staff training and hardware.
Douglas Harrison, faculty senate president, said during the meeting implementing distance learning requires sufficient investment and forethought to be successful.
“Online education doesn’t make learning necessarily better or easier or less expensive,” Harrison said. “I am reminded of a maxim.The maxim goes something like this: cost, quality and access. Pick any two.”
After Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, which only offers 12 online courses, FGCU is the only state university that does not charge an additional distance-learning fee.
Between undergraduate and graduate sections, nearly 600 distance-learning courses were offered in 2011-2012 at FGCU.
Information also showed that 70 percent of FGCU students took at least one online course, compared to 31 percent of students nationwide and 40 percent of students in the Florida state university and college systems.
Roepstorff said eradicating distance-learning courses isn’t an option due to the variety of students FGCU hosts, but keeping courses without a fee is not an option either.
“I don’t know what choice we’re going to have… because obviously distance learning is needed, and it is right for certain students, and for the working students, and for the working family person…by no means do I ever want to cut distance learning out. I think there has to be a balance,” said Roepstorff.
The structure for the online class fee has not yet been determined, but Toll said other universities’ online class fees generally range from $30 to $60 per undergraduate credit hour.
“For at least 10 or 12 years that I’m aware of on other college campuses, that fee for on-campus students taking online courses has been referred to as a ‘pajama tax,’ and pajama tax is a very, very common part of higher education,” Toll said. “Students are generally not opposed to it because they build, they gain the flexibility, of having high-quality education an time of the day or night in their pajamas.
Sarah Miller, a junior majoring in environmental studies, says she is not a fan of online classes regardless of a potential fee.
“I’d rather have a professor teaching in front of me, and I don’t trust myself with an online class,” Miller said. “But besides that, after hearing that there would be this ‘pajama fee’ it definitely would make me less likely to take an online class.”
Andres Bortero, a sophomore majoring in golf management, would also be deterred by the “pajama tax.”
“I would like to know the reason behind it,” he said. “It bothers me that they would charge that because some people take online classes to save money and convenience. The fee takes away from that.”
The “pajama tax” will be proposed at the June Board of Trustees meeting.