Tuition payments are charged by educational institutions in some countries to assist with funding of staff and faculty, course offerings, lab equipment, computer systems, libraries, facility upkeep and to provide a comfortable student learning experience. In most countries, especially non-English-speaking countries, there are no or only nominal tuition fees for all forms of education, including university and other higher education.
Some of the methods used to pay for tuition include:
- Company sponsorship and/or funding
- Government loan
- Educational loan (private)
- Family (parental) money
Countries such as Chile, the Netherlands, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom have “up-front tuition policies." These policies generally include a tuition fee that is large enough to give parents and/or guardians "a responsibility to cover some portion of their children’s higher education costs." This responsibility can make it difficult for a low-income student to attend college without requiring a grant or one or more loans.
In the United States, tuition is one of the costs of a post-secondary education. The total cost of college is called the cost of attendance (or, informally, the "sticker price") and, in addition to tuition, it can include room and board and fees for facilities such as books, transport and/or commuting provided by the college.
Tuition is charged at different rates from one type of institution to the next. Net tuition indices mark an increase in the “relative real burden” for payments at various types of institutions for higher education; in the period between 1980 and 1995, for example, this burden increased by approximately 80 percent for students at public universities and by 148 percent for students at private universities.
Most students and/or their families who pay for tuition and other education costs don't have enough savings to pay in full while they are in school. Some students must work and/or borrow money to afford an education. In the United States, student financial aid is available to defray the cost of a post-secondary education: “Financial aid is typically thought to exert the most influence in [attendance], when admitted students consider whether to enroll in a particular institution.” It is often the case that the lower the cost of the school, the more likely a student is to attend.
Developed countries have adopted a dual scheme for education: while basic (i.e. high-school) education is supported by taxes rather than tuition, higher education usually requires tuition payments and/or fees.
People may purchase tuition insurance to protect themselves from fees related to involuntary withdrawal (illness, death of a parent or guardian, etc.)
In medieval Europe, universities were mainly institutions of the Catholic Church. As they mainly trained clergy, most of these universities did not have any need to exact fees from the students with one notable exception: during the 12th century, while under the supervision of Pierre le Mangeur, the University of Paris began collecting two sous weekly in tuition.
Later, the main duty of universities in most Protestant countries was the training of future civil servants. Again, it was not in the interest of the state to charge tuition fees, as this would have decreased the quality of civil servants. On the other hand, the number of students from the lower classes was usually kept in check by the expenses of living during the years of study, although as early as the mid-19th century there were calls for limiting the university entrance by middle-class persons. A typical family, however, could not afford educating a child or young adult, even if the education itself was free. A similar situation exists today in many Third World countries, where the expenses of "free" schooling (food, books, school uniform, etc.) prevent some children from attending any school.
After World War II, an enhanced standard of living and the existence of free university education in many countries enabled more working-class youths to receive a degree, resulting in the inflation of education and enlarged middle classes. In countries with tuition fees, similar progress was effected with state study loans, grants, scholarships, the G.I. Bill, and other financial instruments. It has been proposed[who?] that the strong class separations visible in British society result from the fact that the expansion of education there has been less efficient than in continental Europe.
Since the early 1970s, the average cost of tuition has steadily outpaced the growth of the average American household. Likewise, there has been a steady decrease in federal funding for grants and a rise in the interest rates of most major student loans, leaving many students struggling to pay debt for years after graduation.
College tuition for undocumented students
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a piece of legislation that is under the Senate floor. The DREAM Act will allow the estimated 50,000 to 65,000 undocumented students in America gain in-state tuition as well as a path towards citizenship. This law will only be applied to those students who have physical proof of being in the United States before the age of 18. This Act has been a large debate for numerous groups, the senate itself, institutions, and families.
As of March 2013, undocumented students are required to pay in between $ 20,000 and $ 35,000 for their local public university. Due to their families' economic status, these tuition amounts have not allowed many of those 50,000 to 65,000 students to receive secondary education. In addition to higher tuition, these students are also unable to receive any federal assistance as they are denied Social Security numbers.
- "Fast Facts". Retrieved 3 January 2014.
- Marcucci, Pamela N. and D. Bruce Johnstone, "Tuition Fee Policies in a Comparative Perspective: Theoretical and Political Rationales", Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Volume 29, Number 1 (2007), pp. 25-40. (Taylor & Francis Online, retrieved 13 March 2012)
- Martin, Robert E., “Why Tuition Costs Are Rising So Quickly”, Challenge, Volume 45, Number 4 (2002), pp. 88-108. (JSTOR, retrieved 13 March 2012)
- DesJardins, Stephen L., “Assessing the Effects of Changing Institutional Aid Policy”, Research in Higher Education, Volume 42, Number 6 (2001), pp. 653-78. (JSTOR, retrieved 13 March 2012)
- Delta Cost Project, "Trends in College Spending 1998-2008".
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- Cauchon, Dennis (June 27, 2004). "Grants more than offset soaring university tuition". Nation (USA Today). Retrieved 2006-05-11.