Pay-per-credit model effectively changes how students fund their education

Michael Brockett
Business Manager

For the last three years, Millersville University has been using a pay-by-credit model instead of a flat-rate tuition model. With the flat-rate tuition model, students paid a flat rate for 12 to 18 credits. Under the new pay-by-credit system, students are charged a $308 per-credit rate, changing their final tuition bill based on how many credits they have registered for each semester.

While there are many pros and cons to a system like this, the university as a whole has found many benefits to having this new model for both the school as well as the students. The main way this specific system is beneficial for students is because those who are only taking 12 credits would save money.

Students also are becoming better at the way classes are chosen and taken. Roger Bruszewski, Vice President of Finance and Administration, stated that under the old flat-rate model students were signing up for classes whether or not they were needed.

Under the new system, students are more selective and systematic in the approach. Due to students being more selective in classes, waitlist time has decreased since 2011 by 57.38 percent. Furthermore, changes in courses by the end of the add/drop period decreased by 13.17 percent since 2011.

Bruszewski said this is because students are more systematic in their approach, using the whole year to complete their program instead of trying to complete everything in the fall and spring semesters, as well as only taking what they need.

Before the change to the system, the average student was graduating with over 130 credits, while during the course of the new model, this number has steadily dropped closer to the 120 credits needed to graduate.

“Students are figuring out how to use the model to the best of their ability,” said Bruszewski. “This new model turns our students into smarter shoppers.”

While data has not been conclusive yet, due to increases in summer and winter session enrollment, this pay-by-credit model has the potential to allow more students to graduate in a shorter period of time.

Beyond class selection, this pay-by-credit model also has the ability to help the university as well as the student financially. From the start the university has stated that the model was a boost in revenue to help balance the university’s budget.

However, through this change of model, an additional $1.1 million has been available for student aid and assistance. Since the establishment of this additional aid program, the full amount has not been utilized.

Besides additional aid being available, under the new program data has shown a steady drop in student loan default rates and a decrease in loans the average Millersville University graduate has compared to the national student loan amount. While there are concerns by the administration that there is a steady decrease in Pell Grant recipients and other aid by the average qualifying student, Millersville University also has reported that the amount of students not requesting aid and not completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been at an all-time high recently.

While there is not a definitive explanation for this trend, data does show an increase in the amount of students enrolled part-time. Before the pay-by-credit model was implemented, roughly 19.4 percent of students were enrolled part time, while currently the number has increased to about 24.7 percent.

After discussions with students, this new model has encouraged and allowed more non-traditional students to enroll as well as allowing more flexibility to the general student’s scheduling, allowing for simultaneous employment while enrolled in classes.

Overall, while there still is no official data supporting if the new pay-by-credit model works better than the old flat-rate model, the university believes that the new model has allowed growth in ways the old system did not.

While students that normally would enroll in 18 credits per semester pay more under the new model, there has been much financial aid assistance available through the revenue generated, as well as providing more flexibility in scheduling year round. While there is still some mourning of the old flat-rate program by the current seniors, in another year, the university will see their first graduating class that has completed their entire education under this new model.

“3 out of 4 classes were here under the pay-by-credit model, so that’s all they know,” Bruszewski stated.

Once the entire school is only familiar with the new system, many concerns will no longer appear as the students continue to navigate and better use the pay-by-credit model. With Millersville constantly changing to be at the forefront of universities, the new model is just another step in providing the best education opportunity for the most number of students.