UK’s last-minute online class fee change

Joslyn Porter

As a freshman student with a heavy course load, I was interested in registering in online sections for some of my classes. For the sake of convenience and saving myself a dreaded and unnecessary 8 a.m. walk to class, I enrolled for two online classes. While initially this just seemed like a time-saver, I was not fully aware how much money I would be spending to take class online.

The UK Online Pricing FAQ web page states that, as of the 2019-2020 academic year, online classes now have a  $575 or $601 per credit hour fee attached. The former amount applies to students taking an entirely online course-load, while the latter applies to students who study in part online and part on-campus. These fees are in addition to regular tuition costs, and have risen drastically from the $10 per-credit-hour distance learning fee that applied to online classes last semester. To help cover part of the fee, UK offers returning students (and all those already registered for online courses) who qualify for financial aid a transition grant in order to lower the price of an online class. 

In late July, the UK student body was notified of this price hike. These changes would take effect not next fall, but this fall – students were given notification less than a month before class. By this time, many students would have been enrolled in classes for months, and many classes are full which would make switching out on online classes difficult.

Students enrolled in online classes were notified about the price changes in an email back in June. The email described the tuition grant option as follows: “As a student enrolled in a mix of traditional and online courses, you may be eligible for Transition Grant funds to partially or fully offset any increased cost from the Undergraduate Online Learning Rate”.

While the transition grant shows that UK is conscious of the extra burden this online class fee places on students, I don’t see it as helping enough to make taking online classes worth the extra money. What happened to me, and possibly to many others, was that I was charged full time on campus tuition plus the online tuition rate for two classes, adding an extra three grand to my tuition bill. My transition grant ended up being less than half of what I was charged for online classes.

I am appreciative of the efforts UK put in place to help students deal with this rise in online class fees. I feel, however, that there was an great lack of communication to the student body when they notified us of the raise in online tuition just weeks before classes would start. The transition grant looks like a weak effort to make up for poor communication regarding this change in tuition rates for the distance learning program.

I respect UK taking more action to make online learning an opportunity to students who demonstrate financial need. However, all price changes should have been made available for students to see when they registered for the coming semesters’ classes, not weeks before we started.