Despite increased fees, taking online courses at Tech is still cheaper than taking the same courses through a similar statewide program Tech officials said.
This semester, a 40% fee for online courses became the topic of discussion among many students who were unaware of the fee.
“The difference is with Tennessee eCampus you pay 100% of the tuition rate plus the online fee. With Tennessee Tech’s online courses, it is counting your tuition rate as half of 12 hours so you don’t pay that additional tuition fee so they really are less expensive even though you are paying an extra online fee,” Claire Stinson, vice president for planning and finance, said.
President Phil Oldham and Stinson addressed the questions brought up by students at Chat with the President on Sept. 19.
Oldham sponsors the event every semester to connect with students and address questions about Tech.
At the event, Oldham said Tech bases the online fees off of those provided by TN eCampus
Tennessee eCampus, a secondary online educational tool offered by Tennessee Board of Regents, launched in 2016 to provide more options in obtaining a degree online. The online campus offers over 500 different degrees and are regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Some students were not aware of the additional fee.
“I truthfully didn’t even realize there was an extra fee until a friend mentioned it to me,” junior Emily Price said.
The additional fee for online classes has risen $14 since 2015 which is almost an 11% increase according to the Tech website.
Some students believe this additional fee increase diminishes the convenience of online courses.
“I know students who take online classes because of the convenience but adding an extra 40% onto the cost takes that convenience away,” sophomore LaceyLee said.
Leequestioned why the fees are in place since online classes “require no extra effort from the school.”
“The online classes are the exact same set up as the iLearn page for each class and there isn’t an extra fee to have iLearn,” Lee said.
Will Byrum, a graduate assistant from the bursar office, said this additional fee is to cover infrastructure and resources required to deliver online courses and to fund the development of new online courses in the future.
“Consistent improvements and updates to iLearn and implementation and testing of new online courses available through Tennessee Tech in order to create more convenient options for students. These online courses require professors to change their course structure, which is not an easy task. There are other reasons as well but these are a couple of them,” Byrum said.
However, some students still feel the fee is unfair in certain circumstances.
“The class I’m taking online is one I need to graduate. When I signed up for the class, it was supposed to be in a classroom but then it got switched to online. That’s not something I could control so I don’t really think it’s fair to charge students more for something that’s required,” Price said.
“Forty percent has been the rate for Tennessee eCampus for many years now and as Tennessee eCampus’ civilizations have sort of declined statewide, our offerings have considerably grown,” Oldham said.