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William & Mary’s Mason School of Business plans to start charging undergraduate business majors a $1,500-per-semester surcharge, becoming the latest in a long line of colleges to charge business students more than others.
The Mason surcharge will be phased in over two years, with new business majors in 2013-14 paying an additional $750 a semester and those becoming business majors in subsequent years paying the full surcharge of $1,500 a semester, according to a news release. Students enrolled as business minors will pay half those amounts: $375 per semester starting in 2013-14 and $750 thereafter. Current students will not pay the extra fee.
For in-state students, tuition and required fees at Mason are now $6,785 per semester; when fully implemented, the surcharge will increase that amount by 22 percent. Out-of-state students now pay $18,672 per semester; the surcharge will add 8 percent.
Mason has an enrollment of 450 students. When fully implemented, the surcharge will raise about $1.35 million per year, with 25 percent of the revenue to be set aside for need-based financial aid and scholarships and 10 percent refunded to the college. The remaining 65 percent will be used by Mason to support faculty, strengthen curriculum and career services, and restore some of the funding once provided by the state, which paid for 42 percent of operating costs in the 1980s and pays less than 15 percent today, says Mason Dean Larry Pulley.
“We’ve been doing more with less for a long time,” Pulley saiys. “We’d like to do more with more.”
Mason joins a growing list of schools charging extra for certain majors, a practice known generally as differential tuition. A 2011 study by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute found that differential tuition policies were on the rise at public institutions, with 143 colleges or universities charging more for some majors—typically business, engineering, and nursing. Among the schools that now charge differential tuition for business majors are the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Business and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
The rationale for these tuition policies is that students enrolled in some majors cost more to educate or have higher lifetime earning potential.