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Title:Students' perceptions of differential tuition based on academic program and the impact on major choice
Author(s):Harwell, Erica
Advisor(s):Delaney, Jennifer A.
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):differential tuition
major choice
higher education
Abstract:The growing popularity of charging students different tuition rates based on their academic major, known as differential tuition, has raised many questions regarding the impact this policy has on access and students’ major decisions. These questions have yet to be explored in higher education research. This study attempts to begin to fill this gap by using a student survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to better understand the awareness and perceptions of undergraduates at a large, public, research university regarding differential tuition. The survey sample includes 1,470 undergraduate students at UIUC from the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The sample includes both students who pay the highest tuition differential on campus and the base tuition rate. Price is hypothesized to matter to undergraduate students when they are selecting their major. Results suggest that price may not be as important as expected to students when selecting their major, but price probably does play some part in students’ decisions regarding the progress they make towards their degree. When students are aware of the tuition differential, they may delay entry into a major or use other cost management strategies to reduce the amount of tuition they are required to pay. Additional findings suggest that the lack of information provided to undergraduates regarding the uses of the tuition differentials collected by certain colleges and departments may be creating negative perceptions of the university. Overall, undergraduates in these two colleges seemed to be aware of tuition differentials, but their knowledge was limited, and they often questioned the magnitude of the tuition differential and the uses of the tuition differential. The study presents further questions regarding the financial knowledge of undergraduates when they make their major decisions. If they are unaware of the details of the tuition differential policy when they are selecting their major, this policy cannot play a role in their decision making, but this then raises further questions regarding the financial literacy of undergraduates and the information they are provided regarding differential tuition policies on their campus. This thesis hopefully will encourage other researchers to explore the policy of tuition differentials further to ensure undergraduates of all backgrounds have equal access to academic majors.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Erica Harwell
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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