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Students Think Online College Should Cost Less

A single-question survey of more than 17,000 incoming college students across the United States and Canada has found that students believe online courses don't have the same value as the in-person experience. The vast majority of U.S. students — 93 percent — told surveyors that tuition should be lower for online programs. Another 6 percent said tuition should have an "opt out" for services and facilities that aren't available. Less than half a percent suggested there should be no changes to tuition. In Canada, 88 percent of students felt tuition should be lower; 11 percent wanted an "opt out" option; and just under 1 percent thought there should be no changes.

The poll was done by OneClass, a study site where people post their class notes. The company suggested in a blog about the survey that students attitudes are based on several factors:

  • The actual instruction is different when it's done online;
  • Students lose access to services such as labs and libraries;
  • It's harder to make friends online, which means something is lost; and
  • When there are so many less expensive options for online education, why pay four-year college rates?

As one student told the company in a previous survey, "A large part of why I go to college is about the college experience. I do not see why I would pay $15k to go to UMass Amherst when I can just take a semester off and take classes at my local community college online for much cheaper."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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