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Business Officer Magazine
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A New Model Rolls Back Tuition, Increases Revenue and Affordability

By Khesia Taylor

How Millersville University, Millersville, Pa., found a way to maintain affordability while increasing revenue was the focus of the session "From Flat Rate to Per-Credit Tuition." Roger Bruszewski, vice president, finance and administration; Lois Johnson, associate vice chancellor, administration and finance; and Jennifer Mariacher, budget director, said their solution was to move from charging undergraduate in-state students a flat rate for tuition to charging them per-credit hour.

Not only would the per-credit option include increased revenue, it would also change student behavior as it relates to course selection, and increase winter and summer sessions course enrollments while decreasing the number of credits received for graduation.

The model required approval from the board of governors and the council of trustees, along with annual reporting. It allows a 7 percent rollback of per-credit tuition from the 2014–15 rate used by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and increases financial aid up to $1.1 million per year to assist students with the greatest need. During the first three years of the program, which was implemented in 2014, Millersville tuition will be slightly lower than the system rate; however, by the 2017–18 academic year, the two will be the same.

Changes Bring Positive Results

The institution used a three-step implementation process: identifying a team that would work on the model; developing a communications plan; and finding out the areas that would be affected by this program. Key internal implementation challenges included financial aid packaging, delayed refunds, tuition payment plans, and assessing fees and waivers. Other  programs that were affected included the tuition assistance programs, 529 savings plan, the tuition management plan, PHEAA state grant program, and the student exchange programs.

Between fall 2013–15, Millersville sent fewer past-due bill statements and as a result, the per-credit hour billing helped with receiving payments on time. In winter 2014, there was a 15 percent increase in tuition revenue; total revenue generated was $3.9 million.

KHESIA TAYLOR is associate editor of Business Officer.

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