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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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U Cuts Differential Tuition Reduction for 78 Graduate Programs

During the 2022-2023 academic year, 1,591 graduate students benefited from the U’s Tuition Reduction program.
Sam Garcia
(Design by Sam Garcia | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


On May 18, 2023, the Utah System of Higher Education amended its policy on graduate degree tuition benefits for employees of higher education institutions in the state of Utah. This left the decision of which graduate programs would remain eligible for tuition reduction to individual universities. The University of Utah’s faculty senate responded by making an amendment to its own policy regarding tuition reduction.

Tuition Reduction is a benefit for U employees and their families. Until the USHE policy change, recipients of tuition reduction had been entitled to paying only one-half the normal rate for tuition, regardless of their state residency status.

“The benefits could only apply to higher ed for undergraduate tuition … unless the institution specified differently in their policy,” said the U’s Deputy Chief of Human Resources, Wendy Peterson.

The U’s policy amendment focuses largely on differential tuition — an additional tuition cost added to base tuition in some university degree programs. Beginning in the fall semester of 2024, the differential tuition costs for graduate programs will no longer qualify for tuition reduction, according to a U press release.

30 programs will be affected by the policy change, the press release said. Among the 217 graduate programs offered at the U, 78 require differential tuition and will be affected by the new policy.

During the 2022-2023 academic year, 1,591 graduate students benefited from the Tuition Reduction program. Data is not available on how many students utilize tuition reduction from graduate programs with differential tuition.

“These changes to the graduate program differential tuition will allow colleges and departments to better plan for and cover the full cost of each academic program,” the U said in a statement released following the May policy change, citing that the university had been operating at a loss of nearly $2.3 million per year since differential tuition was introduced in 2009.

The U reported $405 million in revenue from tuition and fees alone in 2022, a jump of almost $29 million from 2021. In 2023, the U’s enrollment saw an incoming class of 6,100 students, breaking all historic records of enrollment for the fourth year in a row.

“The tuition reduction helped to balance out the rest of scholarships I received, so I was able to get out of college with no debt,” said Bryce Chatwin, who finished two undergraduate degrees at the U in 2022 and plans to go to graduate school.

Chatwin was able to double major in art history and anthropology largely because of the help from the Tuition Reduction Program. Chatwin, whose father drives a shuttle at the U, said he was able to get both degrees in four years without having to stress about how to finance it.

“It was great because I didn’t have to worry about how I [was] going to afford [it],” Chatwin said, adding that he intends on pursuing a masters degree.

Even though the policy changes will not affect the program he’s in, Chatwin said he is hesitant to look at the U for grad school, explaining that it depends largely on how much funding each department receives.

“[The policy change] would be a huge influence, and not just for me, but I think for a ton of people,” Chatwin said.

“There is still tuition reimbursement for graduates, it’s just the differential piece that has changed for the graduate tuition,” Peterson said, adding that differential tuition is normally charged for departments that require increased costs, like lab fees, in order to recoup higher expenses.

“Sometimes it can be the cost of faculty,” said Wendy Poppleton who has worked in human resources at the U for 21 years.

“For example, the College of Law will bring in attorneys to teach classes who could be making a lot more money practicing law instead of teaching,” Poppleton said, adding that this means students need to pay a higher salary than base tuition will cover.

The policy change includes a legacy benefit that will allow students who are enrolled in the graduate program by the spring or summer of 2024 to receive the differential tuition reduction benefit for up to seven years.


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About the Contributors
MJ Jewkes, Investigative Writer
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, MJ has a background in the film industry producing films that have premiered in New York City and won multiple awards. He writes to give a voice to the unheard and keep the powerful in check. He enjoys sports, art and karaoke.
Sam Garcia, Designer
(she/her) Sam Garcia is a junior studying Graphic Design and minoring in Computer Science. She has a bubbly and energetic personality. Loves drawing, painting, taking care of her plants, and getting shredded at the gym.

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