In the next few weeks tuition for Graduate students at the University of Guelph is probably going to go up again. As a student, this obviously bothers me. What is that, 14% in three years? 120% in the last 12 years?
Since many of us know the tuition increase is imminent, and aren’t really willing to protest against it publicly out of fear of reprisal, skepticism, or ignorance, we say:
Hey at least we’re not in the U.S. … tuition is like $<xx>,000 per semester!
There is a prevailing belief in Canada that American tuition fees are completely out of reach for the average lower-middle-class student; thus in Canada we have it a little better, and shouldn’t complain about 4% tuition increases.
This is a popular theory amongst students in times when the Administration corrects budget shortfalls with student money rather than public money, and raises tuition. In hopes of affirming the “at least we’re not as screwed as the Americans”-theory of public education management, I decided to do some research.
The results were surprising: tuition at Guelph is definitely not less expensive than at similar U.S. schools.
First, I visited the U.S. Department of Education College Navigator and found some schools that compared to the University of Guelph in terms of demographics, funding model, and whatever else I could search on.
I used the following criteria: schools that offer advanced degrees (Ph.D, M.Sc, etc.), publicly funded, 10k – 20k Undergraduate students, on-campus housing, a city setting, offer distance learning, and have men’s Football at the varsity level. Once I got that list back (50+ schools), I narrowed it to 13 candidates by demographics: about 17000 undergrads, about 2000 graduate students.
Then I visited StateUniversity.com, a service that collects a tremendous amount of information about post-secondary schools in the U.S., including graduate tuition. I grabbed 2006-2007 tuition data (average, as reported for two semesters) for both resident (In-State) and non-resident (Out-of-State/International) students for each of the schools:
- Ball State University
- Boise State University
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Missouri State University
- Oregon State University
- SUNY at Albany
- The University of Texas at El Paso
- University of Arkansas
- University of Louisiana at Lafayette
- University of Nevada-Reno
- University of Oregon
- University of Toledo
- Western Kentucky University
Then I graphed the resulting data, sorted from lowest to highest.
To get Guelph’s numbers: I took the SFS reported tuition in 2006/2007 (varying by semester), took the average for all programs with the most common program (“Other”) weighted four times heavier. Then multiplied by two, for two semesters. Same was done for the International (Non-resident) tuition. The compulsory UHIP fee was added to the Non-resident tuition. The final amount was adjusted for the exchange rate, at 0.95 USD.
The reported tuition for the American schools involved in this study are averages based on posted tuition fees for all programs. The U.S. tuition fees for graduate programs vary in cost based on number of hours per week, from 3 to 25+. Also, health care coverage is sometimes included, sometimes not, often subsidised. Since I had no control over that data, I decided to just use the value which was reported on StateUniversity.com.
The two figures (click on either to get a larger, more readable version) show the graduate tuition fees of each of the schools, including the University of Guelph. Figure 1 shows resident tuition, Figure 2 shows non-resident tuition (International, Out of State, etc.).
Figure 1 – Graduate Tuition – Resident Students
Figure 2 – Graduate Tuition – Non-resident Students
Raw data is available upon request.
In both cases, resident and non-resident, tuition at the University of Guelph is decidedly in the middle-of-the-road, and far from the blow-out I was expecting. Tuition at Guelph may be significantly less expensive than at the University of Toledo, but it is significantly higher than at the University of Arkansas.
Regardless of Ohio, the hypothesis that tuition at Guelph is less expensive than at equivalent schools in the U.S. of A. has been proven false.
So who cares? Check out Figures 3 and 4 and let me know if students are bearing a proportionate brunt of the increases in the cost of education. There are many other sources for revenue that can be tapped, though undoubtedly student tuition is the easiest one to access.
Some U.S. states have progressive policies about funding public education that do not involve increased tuition. Georgia has the Hope Scholarship program. All Georgia residents are eligible: as long as a student gets out of high school with a 3.0 GPA, and maintains that GPA in University, tuition is free.
Figure 3 – CFS Tuition increase data.
Figure 4 – U of G revenue breakdown.
Join the Student Budget Advisory Group (SBAG) for Tuition Action Day:
Thursday, March 20, 2008
11:00am to 1:00pm