U.S. universities are moving to provide free graduate school tuition following the undergraduate program.
Spring Hills University, a private university in Alabama, recently announced that it would implement a policy of waiving graduate school tuition for those who earn an undergraduate degree over a four-year period, starting from the freshman year of the fall semester next year.
According to this announcement, freshmen at Spring Hills University can attend graduate courses without paying tuition if they complete their undergraduate courses with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. In addition, Spring Hills University plans to provide similar benefits to current undergraduate students, but the details have not yet been confirmed.
Spring Hills University’s free graduate school tuition policy is interpreted as a strategy to attract new undergraduate students and retain current students. While many small, private universities are having difficulty attracting new students, Spring Hills University plans to emphasize the fact that it is possible to obtain a graduate degree for free as a strategy to overcome this problem.
The number of students enrolled at Spring Hills University plummeted from 1,501 in 2018 to 963 in 2021. Ultimately, the university strengthened its efforts to attract students, including cutting tuition in half from $41,868 to $21,100 two years ago. However, as the number of students continued to decline and there was no significant effect, the university came up with a new strategy that would allow students to obtain a graduate degree without paying tuition after graduating from undergraduate school.
Education experts point out that simply lowering undergraduate tuition cannot solve the problem of attracting students. In addition, experts believe that the fact that undergraduate enrolment has decreased while graduate school enrolment has increased due to the COVID-19 incident means that more universities may introduce graduate school tuition exemption policies for promotional purposes to attract undergraduate students.
In addition, since graduate school classes are often conducted online, fixed costs do not increase significantly as more students are added, which is also cited as a reason why the free graduate school tuition policy may be expanded.