Differential tuition

In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), students have the opportunity to learn from world-class faculty and engage in scientific discovery and innovation. To address the increasingly high cost of instruction, materials, and other resources in this area, differential tuition, applicable to juniors and seniors in select LAS majors, was introduced in 2017. The Office of the Registrar maintains the official list of programs that fall under differential tuition. (See Registrar’s FAQ page)

Differential tuition, sometimes referred to as supplemental tuition, is a rate of tuition above the university rate. Since differential tuition is not a fee, the additional cost is considered when determining financial aid and scholarships.

The revenue from differential tuition is invested right back into the student’s major department, to help preserve strong student-faculty ratios, provide excellent support for student success, and maintain the high quality of a degree from LAS.

Even with differential tuition, a degree from Iowa State University is still one of the most affordable options among comparable institutions.

The ISU Registrar maintains a set of frequently asked questions on differential tuition.

The following information addresses additional questions we have heard from LAS students:

When will students with college credits earned in high school or at other institutions be charged?

Students in the designated majors who entered Iowa State directly from high school will pay differential tuition no sooner than their fifth semester regardless of how many credits they have earned. Students transferring into Iowa State from other campuses into the designated majors will pay differential tuition after they have both completed 60 credits and have completed one semester at Iowa State. A student with fewer than 60 credits will not pay differential tuition.

Do other ISU colleges charge differential tuition?

All ISU juniors and seniors in the Colleges of Engineering and Business have paid differential tuition for several years. ISU juniors and seniors in a variety of majors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Design also pay differential tuition. See the Registrar’s page for details on all ISU tuition rates.

How will LAS invest revenues from differential tuition?

Differential tuition will be a resource used to sustain or improve the learning experience for students in the majors where differential tuition is charged. The resources will be invested by the college and the programs with input from their student advisory councils. Examples of the goals LAS may pursue through these investments include:

  • Sustaining close interaction with instructors
  • Enhancing student services
  • Maintaining or lowering student-faculty ratio
  • Supporting high-impact educational practices
  • Maintaining or improving student-centered facilities and technology

What is the college doing to ease the financial burden on its students?

The LAS College and its departments awarded $1.2 million in scholarships to its students in fiscal year 2016. LAS is continuing to raise additional private funds from alumni and friends to support scholarships for students. LAS also encourages students to work with staff in the Student Loan Education Office who help students understand budgeting and responsible borrowing.

How do I appeal a differential tuition charge?

If a student feels they were inappropriately charged differential tuition, the student has the right to appeal the tuition charge, using an appeals form. Submit the appeals form following the instructions on the form. The deadline for consideration of tuition appeals is 5 p.m. on the tenth day of classes. The academic advising committee will review each individual appeal submission, and render a recommendation. Notification of the decision will be sent to the student’s university email account within two weeks of the submission deadline.

If you have further questions please contact: Amy Slagell, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.