Colleges begin restructuring their tuition programsThe turbulent economy coupled with the growing number of individuals who are going back to school has forced many colleges to restructure their tuition assistance programs. Meanwhile, other school are updating their pricing policies to help them entice prospective enrollees.

For example, the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education board of governors, which oversees the state's 14 state universities, recently announced that they will update their pricing policies, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports

As part of this plan, state universities will be replacing full-time tuition with a per-credit hour system for graduate students. Furthermore, the policy will enable schools to have more flexibility in what they charge distance and out-of-state learners.

Officials told the news source that the new policy will allow universities to organize summer and winter pricing packages for students. Nearly 119,500 individuals comprise the total enrollment in the 14 state-funded colleges in Pennsylvania, and nearly 16,500 of them are graduate students.

Currently, the rate is $387 per credit hour. In-state graduate students who are taking at least nine credits are charged $6,966 per year.

The change will allow the school to eliminate some campus fees that distance learners are charged. Moreover, schools are now required to charge 150 percent of the in-state tuition to those who are not residents of Pennsylvania.

States authorizes more financial aid to state students

However, some states are increasing the amount the financial aid that they are offering to students in an effort to help offset the increasing cost of higher education.

Recent changes in legislation will give students who are attending a state-funded four-year school scholarship a boost of $60 per year, The Daily Dunklin Democrat reports.

Officials told the news source that individual scholarships will increase from $950 to $1,010, as a result of fewer students taking advantage of aid programs.

Moreover, the Individual Access Missouri award amounts will increase from $275 to $470 annually at two-years schools. Meanwhile, students at independent four-year institutions will see a boost from $1,900 to $2,160 per year.

"This year it was clear we had additional funds, and they needed to be distributed back to students," Leroy Wade, assistant commissioner for financial assistance for the Missouri Department of Higher Education, told the news source. "In these times, they certainly have needed it. It could help students buy one more book for class, if nothing else."

Online school introduces monthly payment model

Similarly, Ashworth College, which is an online school, recently unveiled a new pay-as-you-go model to allow students to graduate with as little debt as possible.

Online schools often have the advantage of lower overhead costs than traditional schools because they do not build multiple campuses to reach new students. As a result, these institutions can pass these savings on to enrollees.

Officials said that the school will offer a pay-as-you-go model for students that will allow students to make monthly payments while they pursue a degree.

They added that students could leave with a degree and not have the debt that many graduates of traditional schools accrue throughout their education.

"Unless a student was to incur late fees, Ashworth's tuition price at the time of enrollment is the same amount that student will have paid over the course of the program," said Leslie Gargiulo, vice president of education for the school. "It is conceivable that an Ashworth graduate will be able to start life post-graduation thousands of dollars ahead of those who took out student loans."

According to The National Center for Education, approximately two-thirds of all undergraduates received financial aid in 2007-08. 

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