Why does it cost so much to study online at NMSU?

Online education is supposed to be an innovative and, ultimately, less expensive way to learn. However, that is not always the case in the real world, especially as traditional providers enter the playing field, often lacking the incentive to keep costs low. US News and World Reports has produced a new report detailing the ten most expensive online bachelors degrees in the nation.

Unfortunately, New Mexico State University made the list with the 6th most-costly online degree in the nation, costing an astonishing $50,816 according to the magazine. Interestingly enough that is more than double the cost of an undergraduate degree from the institution for an in-state student (Based on this spreadsheet which is provided on the School’s website, a four-year degree for a student taking classes on campus in Las Cruces should cost about $18,600).

This doesn’t add up. Clearly, the field of online learning is a new one and there are resources needed to adapt to the new educational style, but fewer buildings and even fewer instructors should be necessary for online classes. And, of course, at the K-12 level, there are two entirely digital charter schools now up and running that, despite the (controversial) involvement of for-profit companies, are costing parents and students no more than their traditional counterparts.

What gives? It’s hard to say why an online diploma would be so much more expensive than a traditional one. I’d be interested in feedback from folks at NMSU and anyone who is interested in the situation.

HT: Pat Leonard

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6 Replies to “Why does it cost so much to study online at NMSU?”

  1. Do to some misunderstanding/misreporting at another school NMSU has been elevated to 5th place. One caveat, in their attempts to mimic face-to-face instruction, the on-line alternative is not necessarily less costly.

  2. Mr. Leonard, it is “due to,” unless one is old-fashioned and prefers “because of.” I wonder whether the error reflects a more general lack of quality control in online education.

    Costs may be high because many are one-time start-up costs not yet amortized. Although costs should be a concern for several reasons, the range and quality of education should also be a concern. Does online education provide quality education? Does it limit itself rote learning of information or does it encourage critical thinking? Are all kinds of education possible by online education? So many questions; so few answers. The value of online education remains a question so long as these and other questions remain unanswered.

  3. The cost of education today for K-12 or college is 50% higher than it should be. We all know the problem. The interference of the Federal government in Education and the general incompetence of the educational bureaucracies is primary in the failure to educate our kids today. Anything government gets control of today is too expensive and, in general, total failures. Look at healthcare for another obvious example. I think nitpicking why one is more expensive than another may make for a good discussion it ignores the primary problem; Government! State and Federal. PS: The ‘value’ of a college education today, remains a question.

  4. It Does NOT Cost So Much To Study Online at NMSU. And it just goes to show you NOT to believe everything you read online! NMSU charges a Course Delivery Fee (CDF) of $35/credit hour to take online courses. Based on 128-144 credit hours, to earn a BA that adds $4,480-$5,040 to the cost of earning a degree online. For Fall 2013 NM Resident Tuition for 12-18 credits is $3,110.40, which totals $24,883.20 for 128-144 credits or the equivalent of a BA with the CDF is added a BA online costs $29,883.20 – $29,923.20.
    NMSU’s CDF is right in line with UNM’s online course fees of $100 for 3 credits, $70 for 2 credits and $35/credit.
    The following is based on data collected in August of 2011. Costs for NMSU’s peer institutions that charge a DE Fee in addition to the tuition are:
    Oklahoma State University $65/credit hour
    Oregon State University $75/credit hour
    University of Texas El Paso $25/UG credit hour and $50/Grad credit hour
    University of Wyoming $40/credit hour
    Other peer institutions charge a DE Tuition.

    The US News & World Report is especially interesting in light of the following.
    (NMSU) Industrial Engineering ranked in second place nationwide by GetEducated.com Published July 24, 2013

    New Mexico State University’s online industrial engineering master’s program has been independently reviewed and ranked in second place nationwide by GetEducated.com as a top “Best Buy” for engineering professionals seeking a high-quality, low-cost online degree. (http://distance.nmsu.edu/2013/07/24/industrial-engineering-ranked-in-second-place-nationwide-by-geteducated-com/)
    Most Affordable Online College Degree Programs Published July 12, 2013

    New Mexico State University continues to be recognized as a leading school for Hispanic students, as well as for those students looking for an affordable, high-quality online education.

    Affordable Colleges Online has ranked NMSU eighth on its list of Most Affordable Online College Degree Programs. Rankings were based on information from the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, the National Center for Education statistics, Payscale.com’s 2013 College Earnings Report and the Carnegie Foundation

    1. Ms. Bussmann,

      Is your claim that US News and World Report is incorrect or that they are making an inaccurate comparison of some sort? I’m not trying to criticize NMSU unfairly, but when a national publication puts this kind of information out there, we feel that it is something worth discussing.

  5. Dear Mr. Hays.

    Thank you for the schooling.
    I have my own concerns regarding the danger in the one size fits all belief implied in the on-line hype. My questions were focused on the costs to students questions and the merits of the medium.
    Perceptions lead to horse races.

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