Sinclair: Differential tuition isn’t the solution


Chris Jorgensen/Iowa State Daily

Inside Sukup Hall various labs display signs indicating that equipment was funded at least in part by differential tuition. Differential tuition is the act of charging a higher tuition for some majors based on cost needed to provide for a quality education.

Isaac Sinclair

Coming to college is a huge step in anyone’s life. There are many factors to consider when you’re selecting the university you want to attend, like size, location, strength of certain programs and campus life, but there is one factor that helps shape your decision above all else.


This one figure will most likely determine where you go to college. That’s not a bad thing, it is just the world we live. If you have the money, you can afford to go to a more prestigious college.

But that is all tuition should decide. It shouldn’t dictate what you major you want to go into or what path you want to go down in your life. That should be your choice.

Differential tuition, charging higher tuition based on the program you enter, takes that choice out of students hands. Students already have to make so many decisions based on their financial situations. They shouldn’t have to choose their major and career based off that too.

We should be creating opportunities and easy access to higher education instead of creating financial roadblocks for students.

At Iowa State, differential tuition already exists for many majors, like engineers or business majors. I don’t believe this is fair to them.

So why do we even have differential tuition in the first place?

The university will tell you differential tuition covers the cost of funding those specific programs, and that is a valid reason. Some majors require more technology and equipment than others. I understand that, but the weight of funding shouldn’t be put on the students.

Funding for higher education continues to decrease, as Iowa State faces a $2.5 million cut in funding this year, and putting the load on students by increasing their tuition based on their major isn’t fair to students. The state should continue to fund those programs that need the funding.

Education is essential to improving the lives of everyone, and if we make it difficult for people to better themselves, we aren’t helping anyone. Funding for education should be higher priority than it currently is.

Differential tuition is just a band-aid on the larger issue of funding for higher education. It is a way for the university to try to survive, but it isn’t fair to students. We must prioritize funding higher education so every student has a chance to succeed equally.

Students have enough of a financial burden to carry. They shouldn’t be asked to do even more because the state cannot figure out how to fund higher education.