Free «Tuition Fees and How They Affect Enrollment in Higher Education» UK Essay Paper
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The effects of tuition on higher educational institutions have been highly discussed by different researchers over the years. Along with other factors, researchers have studied how these two elements are interrelated. Due to the correlation between them, it has been established that if the price for higher education rises, its demand falls (Heller, 2001, p. 8). Changes in prices do not have the same effect on all students as the differential income endowment for students implies that the effects would vary across income groups.
In the recent days, increasing tuition in higher educational institutions has triggered the question whether the quality of education offered is increasing or decreasing. Level of enrollment, education equality, balancing the budget, and accountability to the public are some of the main factors leading to the questioning (Heller, 2001, p. 4). Recent studies have linked the increasing tuition fees to the declining level of enrollment in higher educational institutions. Students respond differently to different amounts of tuition fees with a large number withdrawing from colleges or universities due to increased fees. Although there are other factors linked to the decreasing growth of enrollment, high tuition fee is a major reason behind the decline (Heller, 2001, p. 5).
Research conducted in fifteen public universities in Michigan states that the trends in tuition fees’ growth and enrollment portray a close relationship. O’Toole and Peterson (1998) establish that the level of enrollment growth has decreased due to the increased level of tuition (p. 36). The authors also link the fall in the rate of enrollment with the tuition fees positing that their increase had steadily discouraged the overall enrollment in the universities (O’Toole and Peterson, 1998, p. 37). Heller (2001) affirms that at the lower level of tuition price change, the impact on the growth of enrollment is not as significant as when the change is above five percent (p. 19). Other factors outside tuition fees also play a critical role in cutting the enrollment rates. These factors include a number of competitive colleges, state funding, regional economics, financial aid, trends of high school graduates, and relative costs to other universities (Heller, 2001, p. 5).
Impacts of Tuition
Heller (2001) avers that tuition fees have an inverse relationship with enrolment. He observes that a $160 increase in tuition fee led to a 0.5 percent decrease in enrollment in four-year public colleges and a 2.3 percent decrease in community colleges. Moreover, he states that the increase in the level of tuition reflects an increase in tuition prices (Heller, 2001, p.14).
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In a study carried out in California, tuition relates to financial aid sensitivity. In its strategy, California pursues low tuition fees due to the low aid. The strategy sets California different from the rest of the country. In fact, students in California pay 77 percent of the tuition prices (Heller 2001, p. 20). The ability of the students to pay for tuition in California is higher than it is for those studying in other parts of the country. It is attributed to the level of income of the households that are above the national average. The other attribute is a traditional college age group of 18-to-24 years. Students of this age are more racially and ethnically diverse unlike the rest colleges and universities, consisting of the native Americans in most cases. The enrollment of these age cohort students is more price sensitive than it is for the white and the Asian-American students. As a result, any change in tuition prices affects them negatively (Heller 2001, p. 21).
Stuart et al. (1990) relate tuition to the mandatory fee established by the institutions. They state that the financial aid, alongside other factors, is important in determining the mandatory fees (Stuart et al., 1990, p. 5). In a study carried out in Oklahoma, Stuart et al. (1990) show that the external factors also contribute significantly to the determination of the tuition price, which Heller (2001) reveals as affecting the level of enrollment growth. The study further discusses the effects of tuition on higher educational institutions and proves the negative relationships.
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Stuart et al. (1990) first evaluate the impacts of tuition on the students’ ability to pay. They argue that in FY10 institutions implemented a strategy of ‘placing the family first’ in their effort to increase the level of enrollment growth. The approach advocated holding tuition rates at the same level as in FY09 while mandatory fees remained the same. The result was an overall increase of less than one percent for the undergraduate resident and non-resident tuition and mandatory fees The Tuition Freeze Plan was set to reduce the financial impact on the students’ and their families in relation to the current economic situation (Stuart et al., 1990, p. 5).
Some researchers say that the increase in tuition has little effect on overall enrollment in learning institutions (Stuart et al., 1990). Instead, other external factors like decrease in the amount of high school graduates and military deployment can increase the prices of fuel and, in turn, tighten the economy. The economic change reflects the overall costs associated with learning in any institution implying that the change is not the only factor to attribute to the increase in tuition fees (Stuart et al., 1990, p. 6).
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Availability of financial aid also affects the mode of learning. Stuart et al. (1990) state that tuition waiver for the residents of FY10 increased by one percent more than the FY09 with less than one percent in tuition and mandatory fees for the undergraduate. Talented students have a portion of their tuition covered by the aid program. Learning institutions assist students to discover other sources of aid resulting in a reduced cost of attendance by poor students (Stuart et al., 1990, p. 6).
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