UA Trustees consider slight tuition increase for medical, dentistry, optometry students

UA Trustees consider slight tuition increase for medical, dentistry, optometry students


Update, 4/9/21: The tuition measures were approved by the full Board of Trustees Friday.

The University of Alabama System trustees are considering a 1% tuition increase for in-state medical, dentistry and optometry students for the next academic year.

During a finance committee meeting Thursday, trustees considered class size and tuition adjustments in an effort to right-size the numbers of health care professionals entering the field.

The system is proposing a 1% increase in tuition rates for in-state medical and optometry students while leaving rates unchanged for non-residents. The University of Alabama at Birmingham is proposing a 1% tuition rate increases for all dentistry students.

Tuition at the UAB Birmingham School of Medicine and the University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences would increase from $29,702 to $29,998 per year for residents and remain $62,714 for non-resident students.

For the UAB School of Dentistry, tuition for Alabama residents would increase from $14,742 per semester to $14,891 per semester and increase from $34,363 to $34,710 per semester for non-residents. The school this fall also will add 21 slots to its yearly class size after receiving approval from its accrediting agency, according to Thursday’s presentation.

The school sought the increase in class size to help address a shortage of dentists in the state, UAB Provost Pam Benoit said.

In-state optometry students at UAB would see tuition increase from $9,194 per term to $9,286 per term while non-resident tuition would stay at $18,004 per term.

The tuition increases are expected to generate an additional $1.23 million in revenue. The rates would take effect in July.

The board chose last year to leave rates unchanged for in-state and out-of-state students as it faced pandemic uncertainty. In 2019, the board kept tuition flat for in-state students with 3% increases for out-of-state students and 1 to 3% increases for the system’s medical, dentistry and optometry students.

The board typically considers graduate and undergraduate tuition rate adjustments for the fall at its June meeting.

In its institutional peer group, UAB’s school of medicine is among the programs with the highest non-resident tuition rates, Benoit said. The university hopes keeping the tuition rate flat will help it remain competitive with non-resident students, she said. The tuition rates for non-residents in the UAB’s optometry program are the highest among peer programs, Benoit said.

The rates in the dentistry program are below the peer average, Benoit said.

“I also think students are very much thinking about how much they have to pay, Benoit said as she answered questions from trustees about the rate for out-of-state students.

Recruiting out-of-state students also remains important as the UAB school of medicine tries to reach diversity goals, Dean Selwyn Vickers said. The school can’t reach those goals solely through in-state students, he said.

Questions from committee members included how many graduates remained in the state and how many of those were originally from out of state.

Benoit said UAB graduates represent 44% of practicing doctors in the state, 72% of dentists and 83% of optometrists.

Trustee Stan Starnes said there are multiple ways the system can help address the shortage of professionals in the state.

“One of those ways has to be admitting people who will stay in Alabama after graduation,” Starnes said.

The full board of trustees is scheduled to vote on the proposed increase when it meets Friday.


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