Students at UT often have to choose between taking cheap, summer courses at a community college or paying the costs of summer tuition to take them at UT. In addition to the high costs of classes, many students have to pay to continue living on campus when taking on-campus courses.
UT’s summer courses are impractical for many students. However, expanding UT extension courses could make summer courses accessible to students without sacrificing rigor.
UT extension is an online course credit program run through the University. Unlike community college courses, UT extension courses count towards students’ GPA at UT and can fulfill key university flags and degree requirements. They are also a fraction of the price of a normal Summer course.
Currently, $2,134 is the highest cost of a three-hour summer course at UT. The highest cost for a three hour summer course through extension is substantially less at $950, yet both courses count toward your degree.
Unlike UT summer courses, many of the extension courses are self-paced online or have online class after 5 p.m., making it easier for students to juggle work and internships.
With all that in mind, it seems logical that extension should serve as the primary way for students to take summer classes. However this summer, only 19 courses are being offered through the extension program compared to the over 100 normal summer courses.
UT has worked to make summer courses cheaper, offering them at 85 percent of normal fall and spring tuition costs, said Mary Knight, associate vice president for finance. These efforts have increased affordability, but they have not been effective in increasing enrollment, proving students are not interested in these courses.
Despite tuitions cuts, summer course enrollment has fallen nearly 20 percent since Summer 2013. Expanding cheaper course options that are self-paced and flexible can help bring students back to studying during the summer at UT.
Summer courses are not practical right now. Students want to do internships outside of Austin and avoid paying rent prices, and having courses that mostly require them to stay in Austin whether or not they live here creates added costs to the already pricey tuition.
Many community colleges already offer robust online programs for far less than UT. Students want to take rigorous, tough courses, but pricing can often serve as a barrier. Expanding UT extension can solve that problem and ensure students get top-tier education for an affordable price.
Treuthardt is a journalism and major from Allen. You can follow him on Twitter at @JamesTreuthardt