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Differential Tuition Proposal

What is Differential Tuition?

Differential tuition funds are used by the college and departments for equipment and activities that directly enhance students’ learning experiences and opportunities that the college is unable to fund from regular tuition.

CAAS is Proposing Differential Tuition

The College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences proposes to increase support for students by providing more advisors, and an internship coordinator/career coach, in addition to more funding for experiences beyond the classroom that reinforce learning and better prepare students for careers. The funding to accomplish these and other goals, many of which will be directed by students, will come from differential tuition on undergraduate courses.

Differential Tuition in LAEP

See how differential tuition is already at work in CAAS, in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.

Differential Tuition Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

What will the money be used for?

The main priority for the college is to increase professional academic advising to support our growing number of students. Adding advisors will reduce wait times for advising appointments and make advisors more accessible to students. The college offers a wide variety of degrees with highly specialized requirements. Increasing the number of advisors will also provide students with more specialized support in their degree programs.

The next priorities for the college are funding:

  • A career coach/internship coordinator (The internship/career coach currently assigned to CAAS at USU Career Services is responsible for more than 5,000 students: all students in CAAS and the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education.)
  • Additional peer advisors
  • More support for undergraduate researchers, undergraduate teaching fellows, and other similar programs, which would leverage more support from the university’s research and provost’s offices
  • Supplement student travel for professional development
  • Alumni relations to create more networking opportunities for internships and jobs
  • Student organizations


The top priority for departments will be replacing funds for course fees that will be removed from 3000-5999 level courses. Departments may use any additional funds for formal and informal learning opportunities such as student travel, equipment for student use, and field experiences. For example, differential tuition funds in LAEP have been invested in 3D printers and other equipment for the design studio and many students were able to participate in a national professional conference with their main expenses paid

How will it benefit students?

Research in higher education shows that students who participate in two or more learning experiences outside the classroom that are related to their major and career goals have higher graduation and job placement rates. Most differential tuition funding will be used to create opportunities for students to use their classroom learning in the real world. That process reinforces what students have learned, points out things they need to learn, and better prepares them for career opportunities.

These experiences won’t only be for upper division students. It is important for people to have real-world experiences early in their college careers to help them make more informed decisions about their education and career paths. It’s important to discover whether a career will be a good fit well before graduation.

When will it start?

The proposal is for differential tuition to begin Fall Semester 2019, but first it must be approved by the USU Board of Trustees and the Utah State Board of Regents.

Where will the money go?

Some will be used by the college and some will be divided among the departments based on student credit hours in the department. It is expected that college-led programs will require 80 percent of the money and 20 percent will fund department-led programs in the first year. The percentage will change in the following 2 years until there is a 60/40 split between the college and departments. CAAS courses are offered at USU Statewide Campuses and differential tuition collected on those courses will be used to enhance opportunities and services offered to students at those locations.

Who will decide how the money is invested?

Funds will be divided among the college’s central student services operations and all the departments.  

A student committee representing all departments in the college will meet at least once each semester to review the differential tuition fund’s income and expenditures and to make recommendations to college and department administrators. This committee will be charged with ensuring that 100% of differential tuition funds have a clear and direct impact on student learning experiences, career placement, and that funds are equitably distributed among programs. Students will be able to make proposals for ways the money should be used.

How will people know where the money goes?

An annual report will be published each July and made available on the college website, similar to what the College of Engineering has already published. View theirs by clicking here.

The Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning (LAEP) Department already has differential tuition. Do those students pay differential tuition twice?

No. LAEP’s differential tuition applies only to upper level and graduate courses and the amount currently charged for those courses will remain the same. The proposed additional $15 per credit for level 1000-2999 courses in the college will also apply to courses in LAEP.

Did students have input on deciding to add differential tuition?

Yes. The initial idea to add differential tuition in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences came from the CAAS student senator and council in Fall Semester, 2014. CAAS student leaders who represent clubs and each of the college’s departments have been involved in discussions and formulating the proposal since that time.

During spring semester 2016, a questionnaire regarding differential tuition was sent to all CAAS students. Just over 24% of students completed the survey. Approximately 10% were fully in favor with 58% responding they may be in support, depending on how the money was to be spent. Their input has been used to shape the current proposal. The remaining respondents were opposed to differential tuition.

A strategic campaign to inform students about differential tuition was initiated during the final three weeks of spring 2018 semester. This website was developed where students could obtain information about the proposed differential tuition.  This included videos explaining the proposed differential tuition structure and proposed use of differential tuition funds generated. Once implemented, this same website will be used to publish the annual report, publish oversight committee meeting schedules and minutes, and provide other information regarding the spending of differential tuition funds.

The strategic campaign was centered around the informational video produced to explain the differential tuition proposal. A link to the video was distributed to all undergraduate students in the college via ThankView, a trackable online video distribution system. All undergraduate students enrolled in one of the majors in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences on the Logan campus during Spring 2018 were contacted and asked to watch the short video and respond to a survey. If students did not respond, they continued to receive multiple email reminders to encourage their participation. The population contacted included 1,816 undergraduates during the last three weeks of Spring Semester 2018. Of the 1,816 contacted, 1,116 opened the email sent to them (61%); 616 (33.9%) clicked on the link directing them to the video; 576 (31.7%) watched the video to the end; and 477 completed the brief survey that followed the video (26.3%).

Of those students who watched the video to the end and completed the brief survey, 53.35 percent agreed with the statement, “I believe that differential tuition proposal as explained in the video has the potential to positively impact the student experience in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.” An additional 9.76 percent were “neutral” in their response to the statement, and 36.87 percent disagreed.

As part of the survey, students were also able to ask additional questions regarding the implementation of differential tuition. Very few questions were submitted and all questions were given an answer.

Tuition keeps increasing and CAAS regularly enrolls more students, so why isn't there already enough money to provide these student benefits?

All the money from Tier 1 and Tier 2 tuition, funding from the state, research contracts, and donors must be used for specific purposes. Part of the tuition all students pay goes to a common fund for higher education in the state and some to central USU operations. Many student services at the university are supported by Tier 2 tuition, but the college does not automatically get more operating money as enrollment grows. Department heads and college deans can request funds for specific programs. This year, CAAS was able to add another full-time advisor to the college’s student services staff, but that is the first increase in operating budget in nearly 10 years. During that same period, the number of students in CAAS has nearly tripled.

How did the college decide on the amounts?

Differential tuition levels across other USU colleges, as well as peer universities, were reviewed for rates and what they provided. Actual costs of the new student services and benefits were calculated and averaged across the college. 

As an employee of USU, I receive a discount on university tuition. Does that discount apply to differential tuition?

Yes, half tuition for USU employees and their dependents also covers differential tuition.

Will differential tuition apply to every major and every class?

Differential tuition will apply to all undergraduate courses in the college (with the exception of some courses in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, aviation professional pilot courses, and some additional professional program courses), but with different amounts for upper and lower division courses.

No differential tuition will be applied to graduate level courses.

Note that to offset some of the increase, course fees will be removed from most 3000-5999 level courses.

How much will it cost?

Different amounts will apply to different course levels, with a lesser amount for 1000-2999 level courses and higher for 3000-5999 level courses.

Lower level courses will add $15 per credit. After 2021, that rate will increase at the same percentage as Tier 1 tuition.

Higher level courses will begin with $39 per credit in Fall Semester 2019 then adjust to $49 per credit for in Fall Semester 2020 and $59 in 2021. After that, differential tuition will increase at the same percentage as Tier 1 tuition.

Note that to offset some of the increase, course fees will be removed from most 3000-5999 level courses.

After year three, the differential tuition rate for 3000-5999 courses will increase at a level sufficient to fund the institutional share of any legislatively-approved compensation package. Any increases beyond this will require approval by the Board of Trustees and Board of Regents.

Why won't course fees be removed from all upper division classes?

CAAS is home to a widely diverse set of degrees with significant differences in operating costs. Examples of courses that will continue to assess fees are those in the aviation flight program, teacher education clinical and student teaching, dietetics internship and clinical fees, and riding courses in equine science. However, differential tuition will not be collected on any 3000-5999 level courses that continue to collect course fees.

Feedback From CAAS Students

We are interested in feedback from declared students in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. An email will be sent to CAAS students later this month, with an opportunity for them to provide us with feedback directly.