AUSTIN, Texas ― Some online higher education courses are costing Texans more money than brick-and-mortar classes.
At the University of Texas at Arlington, students are charged an extra fee of $75 to $90 per online class to “defray the cost of course development and implementation,” said Pete Smith, the college’s vice provost for digital teaching and learning.
The Dallas Morning News analyzed 18 universities and found that only the University of North Texas in Denton and the University of Texas at Austin had lower costs for online classes. State leaders have hailed online education as one fix for ballooning college prices, but tuition for those classes can be more than 20 percent higher.
In 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry challenged state public universities to establish bachelor’s degrees that would cost $10,000 or less. Some state lawmakers and public policy groups say online courses could be the answer to reducing tuition rates by opening a way for universities to save on facility and faculty costs.
But many of the online courses include extra fees or additional costs per credit hour. University officials said higher tuition rates for online courses are the result of expensive infrastructure and the costs for designing the courses.
Barmak Nassirian, of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, said online courses aren’t a solution to rising college tuition in Texas and across the nation.
“There’s a sort of snake oil quality to some of the facile answers that people periodically throw out there,” Nassirian said. “Online education can be a tremendously valuable component for actual academic delivery, but if you were to do it right, it would not only not save money, it would cost money.”