Numeracy

Reading the paper this morning, I was interested to read two stories. The first was about the University of Nebraska Board of Regents approving at 3.75 percent tuition increase. The second was about those same regents moving forward with cutting the number of credit hours to graduate. The two stories were separate, and in print were in different sections.

Why am I interested in this? Because of the logic bomb contained within them that you’ll find if you just do the math.

In the tuition increase story, you learn that the increase will add $94 to $116 to a students bill every semester.

In the degree requirements story, you learn that cutting degree requirements is “aimed at saving students and their families money.” In fact, cutting the required number of credit hours from 125 to 120 will save students $1,000 to $1,500 in tuition and fees in total.

Wait a second, those are two different time periods. One looks at per semester, the other looks at total cost. What happens when we put them on the same scale?

If a student takes the traditional 8 semesters to graduate, that means the tuition increase will add $752 to $928 to the student’s total bill.

In other words, because of these two things combined, the real savings to students is $248 to $572.

Which raises a question not being asked: Why raise tuition if you’re trying to cut costs? Or, on the flip side, why cut credit hours to save money if you aren’t going to save any?