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Editorial: High summer tuition strains students' budgets

Nov. 5, 2010

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

Many students want to take summer classes at Baylor for a variety of reasons, including the need to graduate on time or even study abroad at a Baylor program. However, many students face insurmountable obstacles in their attempts to take Baylor summer courses, namely financial costs.

The Baylor tuition per credit hour during the 2010-2011 school semesters is $1,124, although most students don't use this number. Most students see the price that Baylor offers as its flat tuition rate during the semester: $13,483 for a full-time load of 12 hours or more.

While Baylor tuition is without a doubt costly, Baylor does try to help to ease the financial burden placed on students and their families.

The flat tuition rate is beneficial to many students and can save students up to $6,744 per semester, and it is a policy most students at Baylor take advantage of. Baylor also offers both academic and departmental scholarships. Baylor's financial aid office provides support for students who could not attend Baylor without assistance. However, all of this assistance and aid is only offered during the fall and spring semesters.

Students wishing to get such a deal during the summer semester are not as lucky.

Paying for a Baylor education isn't cheap, and most parents and students know they are paying for a better education than they would get at most other colleges (thus the higher tuition).

What makes summer infinitely more difficult to pay for than the spring or summer semester is that Baylor offers little to no scholarships for the summer terms. Baylor does not offer scholarships for students studying on campus, and offers one-time-only stipends for students studying abroad during the summer, which barely offsets the high tuition costs coupled with the costs of airfare and room and board abroad.

Most financial aid does not apply during the summer terms either, unless students wish to take out extra student loans, combined with loans they are possibly already taking out during the semester.

Baylor does not offer a flat tuition rate for full-time students during the summer. The hourly rate for the summer is slightly cheaper than the semester rate, at $844 per credit hour, saving students up to $2,520 assuming they have a maximum load of 9 hours. However, instituting a flat-rate tuition program for the summer could save students an additional $2,532, coming to a total of $5,052 students could save during the summer.

Therefore students who struggle financially to come to Baylor are automatically restricted to taking summer courses at community colleges, arguably below Baylor's high quality (or there should not be such a drastic jump in tuition prices), in order to get the classes they need during the summer.

In addition, many news sites are saying summer classes are becoming even more necessary for students, for a variety of reasons.

One of the most common reasons is a lack of summer jobs and internships available to students during the recession, so students are seeking ways to be more prepared and productive. Some students' majors make completing school in four years difficult, and summer classes help bridge the gap. Other reasons include summer study abroad opportunities, which allow students to participate in educational summer programs without having to miss out on a semester of major-oriented classes.

Students who struggle financially are therefore left out of many summer study abroad opportunities: Baylor in Paris, Baylor in London and Baylor in Italy, just to name a few.

The lack of summer incentives, from the lack of a flat-rate tuition plan to an astounding lack of scholarship and financial aid funding, means the underprivileged students are unfairly excluded from Baylor's summer experiences, whether at home or abroad.

Though it is probably inadvertent, Baylor could make stronger moves to help students fund summer learning experiences.