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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Western sets guidelines for tuition waivers

TuitionPolicyA new policy that could affect students seeking tuition waivers has been developed and proposed by Western Administration.

Tuition waivers provide access to students with financial need, support teaching and research assistants at the graduate level, support legislatively mandated and gender equity waivers, and attract a high quality and diverse group of students to Western.

Western has several types of tuition and fee waivers, such as admission waivers for incoming students, graduate tuition and graduate teaching assistant waivers, intercollegiate athletics gender equity scholarships, international student waivers and need based waivers. This policy will apply to faculty and staff involved in the awarding, processing and reporting of tuition waivers for the university.

Eileen Coughlin, Western’s Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services, has served as the financial manager for tuition waivers for the last 20 years. She said the policy is enhancing the process already used by the university.

Tuition waivers are similar to scholarships and grants in that they are all forms of financial aid, but waivers hold a separate meaning, said Keely Flege, peer adviser for the financial aid department at Western.

“A tuition waiver is something that is going to be awarded typically based off of need, so that is something that is awarded from the university if a student displays significant financial need,” Flege said. “A scholarship is typically something that a student will apply for separately, usually based off of merit or diversity.”

“Tuition is such a big deal with everybody that I would see it benefiting people.”

Sophomore transfer student, Karina Quiroz

The policy is currently under proposal, with a draft of the policy being reviewed by individuals across campus to be revised to reflect their input. The policy will remain up for review online until Thursday, April 21.

Flege said that demographic factors — such as gender and race — do not affect federal aid, but there are scholarship opportunities provided by the university that focus on diversity and sometimes women in particular.

“Federal aid is limited by that need based requirement,” Flege said. “But there are definitely scholarship opportunities at Western that are geared toward diversity, so the applications are structured such that students who have more diversity experiences are more likely to get the scholarships.”

The first of the policy’s six rules states that tuition and fees may be waived. It also designates Coughlin as the university’s financial manager for tuition waivers and allows the Western Budget Office to calculate the amount of tuition waiver funds available to the university.

According to the policy, waiver administrators must maintain written eligibility criteria and waiver administrators must retain documentation to support award decisions. The last rule states that employees will adhere to ethics in public service law to manage actual or perceived conflicts of interest in awarding tuition waivers.

Western’s Board of Trustees is authorized — but not required  — to grant tuition and fee waivers for different categories of students. The trustees can also provide waivers for different fees, with the exception of waivers required by law.

Sophomore transfer student Karina Quiroz said adding existing policy will raise awareness among those who are directly affected.

“Tuition is such a big deal with everybody that I would see it benefiting people,” Quiroz said. “Maybe the old policy needs fixing here and there, and that could help it become better.”

A 30-day comment period is required prior to the final draft review by a board of President  Bruce Shepard’s advisers.

In January 2004, Western filed a proposal similar to the new policy — titled Admission and Registration Procedures. The purpose of the policy was to add a new section to the already existing chapter that establishes rules for waivers of tuitions and fees.

In the 12 years following the proposal and acceptance of Admission and Registration Procedures, Coughlin said her team at Enrollment and Student Services still uses the policy when soliciting waiver need requests from appropriate administrators. These are used for determining projections and allocations for strategic enrollment management goals.


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