Lantern file photo
Students enrolled in online classes will have to pay a distance learning fee starting Summer Semester.
Passed by the Board of Trustees on Feb. 10, students who are enrolled in exclusively online courses will be charged a $100 fee in addition to their tuition. Non-resident students will pay a $105 fee.
This fee will not be applied to students who take classes on any of Ohio State’s campuses, and are in courses that are assigned any class or lab time.
The fee is being implemented to help cover the costs of online courses.
“Services associated with distance education come with some costs. For example, a 24/7 help desk is needed to accommodate those students,” said Wayne Carlson, vice provost for undergraduate studies and dean of undergraduate education.
“The nature of online courses is that there are resources that go beyond those of an on-campus face-to-face student, and the fee is to cover those,” Carlson said.
Some think the fee is unnecessary.
“I don’t see why anyone would think that’s a good idea. The online courses use fewer resources from the university,” said Timothy Gregory, professor of history and distance learning instructor. “In a time of financial austerity, the university is being asked to cut back, it seems like not a very good time to do this.”
While some departments have instituted distance education fees in the past, this one will replace all those currently or previously in place.
“The price structure has been all over the map. Nursing added a $175 fee, others added no fee … we wanted consistency, we wanted one structure,” Carlson said.
Non-resident students are charged a $105 fee, $5 more than Ohio resident students. By law, the university is required to charge them more then what is charged to in-state students.
Students who take only online classes for a quarter end up saving money because they don’t have to pay the Ohio Union, COTA and RPAC fees that are added to tuition bills, saving them $200 to $400 every quarter they enroll in only online classes.
“It turns out it’s cheaper to be an online student than on-campus,” Carlson said.
Non-resident students have even more savings.
“We don’t charge out-of-state tuition. Students taking all classes at Ohio State aren’t charged as an out-of-state student,” Carlson said.
This results in a savings of roughly $6,000 to $7,000 per quarter.
“What we see is that students will take part of their course load online, then come to campus to complete their degrees,” Carlson said.
Since most online classes are general education courses, and OSU offers no online degrees, students cannot fulfill their entire major curriculum this way.
“We don’t have that many online classes, we might have a student who takes only one online class,” Carlson said.
Students who take a combination of classroom courses and distance learning courses won’t be charged the new $100 fee, and several students said they would be opposed to the fee if they were.
“I’m taking two online classes now, and some aren’t even offered in a lecture, just online,” said Brooke Shepard, a second-year in family financial services.
Shepard said that if she was charged a fee, it would make her decide not to take online classes in the future.
“I pay for classes that are actual classes, taught by teachers. Adding an extra fee to an online class is almost insulting. I would not go for that,” said Nate Fisher, a fourth-year in international business.
Carlson said he hopes that in accessing the programs and changing some inconsistencies, the distance education programs at OSU will improve.
“We have really never had a strong distance learning program. We only have 40 courses that are strongly defined as online in the various programs,” he said.
Carlson said that in some cases it can be hard to distinguish which classes are distance learning courses.
“If it isn’t tagged as an online class, we have no way of knowing,” he said. “One of our goals is to know.”
Carlson said he would like to see more distance learning classes available to better accommodate students who can’t come to OSU due to travel distances, disability or a demanding job.
“Hopefully in the future we will be able to reach those students with what is uniquely Ohio State,” Carlson said.
While Carlson knows that online classes are more convenient for some students, he said that students still gain a lot from being on campus.
“I’m a big believer in the campus experience. Coming to Ohio State, students should experience everything it has to offer,” he said. “I don’t think it challenged the brick and mortar campus, as people call it.”