Press "Enter" to skip to content

WashCo Taxpayers Pay For WCC online degrees for Out-of-State Students

As if community colleges didn’t have enough trouble attracting students, they now have to contend with online degrees from MasterClass. MasterClass bills itself as “… the streaming platform that makes it possible for anyone to watch or listen to hundreds of video lessons taught by 150+ of the world’s best.”

MasterClass co-founder Aaron Rasmussen has teamed up with and Golden Gate University to deliver two-year online degrees in applied computing, liberal studies, and business administration. According to Golden Gate University, lecturers from prestigious universities will deliver the material via videos with slick production values. Instructors from Golden Gate University will interact with the students to answer questions, grade assignments, and manage discussions.

According to the US Department of Education, Golden Gate University is a private, non-profit, 4-year university with a 47% graduation rate. Its graduates earn an average of $80,000 ten years after first enrollment. The interesting thing is that Golden Gate University serves primarily graduate students, enrolling three times as many graduate students and undergraduates. And for the moment, it’s small. In 2020, it reported an unduplicated headcount of fewer than 3,400 students. It’s also partnered with Amazon to offer free tuition to its employees who study through Golden Gate University. The total cost for an associate degree? About $9,000. That figure includes all materials and books.

Anyone with a high school diploma or GED can enroll, with one small catch: Residents of Alabama, Arkansas, D.C., Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, US Commonwealths (Puerto Rico, Upper Mariana Islands), and US Territories (Guam, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands) need not apply.

WCC heavily discounts its online degrees

Golden Gate University’s standard tuition rate is $462 per credit hour, but its Outlier programs can be had for the low, low price of $149 per credit hour. As a point of comparison, Washtenaw Community College currently charges distance learning students $123 (in-district), $135 (out-of-district) and $145 (out-of state) per credit hour. These figures include tuition and the $15 per credit hour technology/infrastructure fee.)

These rates vary widely from the rates WCC charges for in-person classes. The per-credit hour tuition and fees cost for in-district students are $110; for out-of-district students $184; and for out-of-state students, $254 when those students take classes on-campus. The increased cost for out of district/out of state students represents the subsidy that county and state taxpayers provide through property taxes and the state appropriation. The out-of-state rate represents the actual, unsubsidized cost to educate a student.

But WCC offers discounts for out-of-district and out-of-state students who enroll in online classes. The chart below compares the cost of a 60-hour degree earned in-person versus online.

Residency In-person Online Difference
In district $6,600 $7,380 +11.8%
Out of District $11,040 $8,100 -26.6%
Out of State $15,240 $8,700 -75.1%

So, the in-district student pays a premium of $780 to earn an associate degree online. The out-of-district student gets a $2,940 discount for earning an associate degree online. The out-of-state student gets a discount of $6,540 for earning an online degree.

What are “discounts” to students are subsidies provided by the Washtenaw County taxpayers. We’re paying between 27%-75% of the cost of online degrees for students who do not:

  • Live in Washtenaw County
  • Work in Washtenaw County
  • Pay taxes in Washtenaw County
  • Intend to set foot in Washtenaw County

In-district students pay a premium for a WCC online degree

The WCC Board of Trustees – elected by Washtenaw County taxpayers to oversee the community college we built and pay for – approved this absurd arrangement. Why shouldn’t the taxpayers of Washtenaw County give away our educational resources to people all over the country? After all, “we’re in a rich community!” We can afford to educate anyone (except our own residents) at a discount!

As a Washtenaw County taxpayer, if you don’t think you should be paying for online degrees for people from all over the United States, please think very carefully about who you vote for in the 2022 Trustee election. And please let the WCC Board of Trustees know what you think of their tuition policy for out-of-state students seeking WCC online degrees.

Photo Credit: San Francisco Public Library, Signs and Wonders Collection , via Flickr