Online fee unavoidable for some students at WKU

Michael McKay

Earlier today, the Board of Regents approved the $388 million dollar budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year which included a 4.8 percent raise in tuition and fees.

Also included in the budget was the adoption of a new fee to all students taking an online class, including full-time students. A full-time student taking one online class will now pay $265 dollars more than students paid last year, with tuition increases of $194, and $71 for the fee.

In the past, the fee has only affected part-time students or those taking a class in summer or winter term.

WKU students have taken to social media websites to voice their opinions about the tuition increase.

Alicia Bandas, who identifies herself as a graduate student in a post on the Herald’s Facebook page, said she wasn’t thrilled about the increases because her courses are online.

At the board meeting, Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said the number of courses offered only online was only a small percentage of the total offered through WKU.

Oakland junior Londa Stockton is another student in that percentage.

Stockton said she’s already dropped one of her online classes after hearing the fee was passed. She said some of the classes she needs are only online.

“I probably can’t afford this, but I have to take it,” Stockton said of her classes.

Stockton said the fee feels like a “punishment” to students in her situation.

Emslie sent out an email to faculty and staff explaining the reasoning behind the fee. In the email, Emslie points out that WKU is currently the only university in Kentucky who doesn’t charge an additional fee for all students who take an online class. He said the new fee will is lower than at other universities.

“We have thoroughly evaluated our fee structure for online courses and have determined that WKU distance learning fees are still among the lowest in the state,” Emslie said.

Emslie went on to say that rising costs within the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach means WKU can’t waive the fee.

President Gary Ransdell echoed Emsile’s sentiment in the Board of Regents meeting.

“We can just no longer afford to give online classes away to full-time students,” Ransdell said.