Bama by Distance students face tuition increase

Grace Schepis | @GraceSchepisCW, Staff Writer

The UA System Board of Trustees increased tuition for Bama by Distance students in a June meeting. Bama by Distance allows students to earn their degrees through distance learning technology and offers over 70 degrees. 

The new tuition rate of $385 per undergraduate credit hour marks a $10 increase from the previous year. Graduate students will see an increase of $20 per credit hour, leaving the rate at $440. Most courses are three credit hours. 

Jonathon Halbesleben, dean of the College of Continuing Studies, said high enrollment and a demand for expanded resources were the primary reasons for increasing tuition. 

“The additional tuition funds will be used to offer tuition assistance to students with financial need, increased training of faculty regarding online teaching to ensure students have a high-quality experience, and increased investments in academic support of distance learning students,” Halbesleben said. 

Halbesleben said these resources include student success coaches, career services and 24/7 technical support. While Bama by Distance students are not on campus, the college aims to provide them with the same tools as traditional students.  

Testimonials on the Bama by Distance website highlight student experiences. While some are earning degrees past the age of a typical college student, they said the program best fits their lifestyles. 

Kim Eaton, originally from Hawaii, found her way into the Bama by Distance Master’s program when her 15-year-old daughter, Angel, was diagnosed with cancer. 

With this encouragement, Eaton earned her degree through Bama by Distance. When Angel passed away months later, Eaton decided to begin her doctorate, specializing in families who have suffered child loss. 

“Once you get older and start a career and a family, you think ‘There’s no way I can go back,’” Eaton said. “But if I can do it, I think anybody can do it. It wasn’t easy — not at all. It was very challenging. But it was worth it.”

Carlos Jaramillo, a graduate student in the Bama by Distance advertising and public relations program, found the tuition increase unfortunate but remained hopeful.

“As a current Bama by Distance grad school student hailing from Chicago, my experience with The University of Alabama has been second to none,” Jaramillo said. “If I have to pay a little bit more, but as a result receive an even more unique learning experience at the University, I am perfectly fine with that.”

Despite the increase, Jaramillo said the University’s distance learning program is still affordable compared to graduate programs accessible to him in Chicago.