For the first time, TU is implementing a reduced summer tuition program intended to help students who are behind on hours and increase retention.
Students can now take summer courses at a free or reduced rate thanks to a new program implemented by TU.
The TU community received an email on February 26 announcing the changes in summer tuition. Freshmen and sophomores who finish the school year with less than 30 or 60 credit hours, respectively, can take whatever courses they need to reach that amount tuition-free. Any courses they take past the 30- or 60-hour limit will be offered at a half-price rate of $726 per credit hour.
Other underclassmen who wish to take summer courses can do so at the half-price tuition rate.
Full details of the program and a complete listing of rates can be found at utulsa.edu.
This is the first time TU has offered free or reduced summer tuition to students. Janet Levit, TU’s vice president for strategic initiatives, said that the program is intended to help students regain lost hours.
“Data shows that if freshmen have completed at least 30 hours by the end of their first year, and if sophomores have completed at least 60 hours by the end of their second year, they are much more likely to earn their degree in four years than those students who do not,” she explained.
According to the Office of the Provost, a total of 355 students who started at TU in fall 2015 had completed fewer than 30 credits by the end of their first two semesters, and 393 fall 2016 freshmen had completed fewer than 30 credits by the end of their first two semesters.
The program is intended to help students regain lost hours, thereby addressing related issues like retention rates.
“Students may drop courses for a variety of reasons – some beyond their control,” Levit said. “Universities recognize that the first two years of college often pose the most challenges for students. This summer program provides students with an opportunity to get back on track with their peers and better adhere to degree requirements.”
The Office of the Provost reports that students who complete 30 credit hours by the beginning of their second year of study return to TU at a rate of 96 percent. Students who complete 30 hours by the beginning of their second year graduate at a rate of 88 percent.
Levit said that the university hopes to see freshman-to-sophomore and sophomore-to-junior retention rates increase.
Administration is prioritizing the reduced tuition program despite TU’s recent budget issues. “When confronted with tough budget decisions almost two years ago, the university made some strategic cutbacks in areas that largely were not felt by students and then decided [to move] forward to focus on growth rather than continued cuts. This initiative is part of our growth effort,” Levit said.
The reduced tuition program is a pilot at TU, but Levit said that other universities have implemented similar initiatives “with great success.”
“We want to help students graduate on time and save themselves additional expenses such as tuition and housing,” she said.
Levit anticipates an increase in enrollment for summer courses because of this program. “We also hope that some Tulsa-area students who are not currently attending TU but are home for the summer might enroll at TU with the reduced tuition rate,” she added.
Though the program is in its early stages, TU administrators are confident that it will benefit students and are prepared to explore alternatives if it does not have the anticipated effect.