Track the Cash: How Vanderbilt’s summer session tuition stacks up against peer institutions

The Hustler examines Vanderbilt’s summer session tuition and compares costs across public and private universities both in and out of state.

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Emily Gonçalves

The Office of the University Registrar serves to provide “timely, accurate, and efficient service, and is dedicated to ensuring the integrity, confidentiality, and security of Vanderbilt education records,” per its website.

Thomas Hum, News Copy Editor

Vanderbilt University’s 2020 Summer Sessions tuition has been set at $1,698 per credit hour, representing a $73 per credit hour increase from Summer 2019’s cost of $1,625. This means a Vanderbilt student taking a regular three-credit course would be paying $5,094 in 2020.

Since 2016, the university’s summer tuition per credit hour has increased by approximately 16.6 percent. The Hustler compiled Summer 2020 tuition rates from 17 other schools, public and private, in-state and out-of-state, to examine how Vanderbilt stacks up against its peers. In generating tuition figures per credit hour for universities with nontraditional credit systems, some costs provided by schools were converted to be most directly comparable to Vanderbilt’s. Registration and program fees do not factor in these figures, and calculated numbers were rounded to the nearest dollar.

Public in-state

We compared Vanderbilt’s summer tuition with five of the largest public universities in Tennessee, according to enrollment size. To calculate their summer tuition, we averaged per credit hour tuition (rounded to the nearest dollar) for in-state and out-of-state students. Registration and program fees do not factor in these figures. 

The University of Memphis’s average per credit hour tuition was calculated to be $422, while Tennessee Technological University stood at $490, East Tennessee State University at $531, Middle Tennessee State University at $689 and University of Tennessee at $758.

Tennessee line map with college logos over their respective locations
Thomas Hum · Source: infogram.com

Private in-state

Three private, in-state universities were selected due to their proximity to Vanderbilt. The University of the South, Belmont University and Lipscomb University, all private universities in Tennessee, set their summer tuitions at $1,170, $1,330 and $1,286 per credit hour, respectively.

Vertical bar graph comparing Vanderbilt in yellow and other private in-state colleges Belmont, Libscomb, and University of the South in gray with Vanderbilt's being the highest and each school descreasing
Chart: Thomas Hum · Source: infogram.com

Private in US News National Top 20

Vanderbilt’s summer tuition stood at the third-highest when compared to ten similar private universities in the top 20 of the US News 2020 Best National University Rankings. The ten institutions were selected for their proximity to Vanderbilt in the rankings list, class size, location and academic offerings. 

Rice University charges $250 per credit hour for Rice students, and $500 for the first six credit hours for visiting students, then $250 for each hour thereafter. Duke University charges $833 per credit hour for regular or non-science lab courses and $1,067 per credit hour for a science course with a lab.

Johns Hopkins University stood at $1,015 per credit hour, Washington University in St. Louis at $1,180, the University of Notre Dame at $1,185, Brown University at $1,438, Cornell University at $1,520, Northwestern University at $1,562, the University of Pennsylvania $1,841 and Dartmouth College at $2,568 (although this figure decreases as more courses are taken).

Within this set of peer institutions, Vanderbilt has the third-highest summer tuition rate per credit hour, right between Northwestern and the University of Pennsylvania.

Chart: Thomas Hum · Source: infogram.com

According to Douglas Christiansen, Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs and Dean of Admissions and Finance Aid, Vanderbilt students have registered for 6,958 hours to date, compared to 3,259 hours last year at the same time, which represents an overall 113 percent increase in course enrollment. This means that Vanderbilt is poised to generate $11,814,684 in revenue for 2020 Summer Sessions, which is $6,518,809 more than the $5,295,875 generated last year. These figures were calculated by multiplying the number of total credit hours taken during each summer by their corresponding per credit hour tuition rates. However, they do not take scholarships or financial aid that students may receive into account.

According to Vanderbilt’s Summer Sessions website, students who are continuing enrollment through the summer should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to inquire about their loan eligibility. A student will be considered for need-based grant assistance if the student is required by his or her school to attend summer school or will be able to graduate early by attending one summer term, per the website.

“The credit hours reflect a national trend as many of our peers are seeing an uptick in summer course enrollment due to the cancellation of internships and employment opportunities for many students because of the ongoing pandemic,” Christiansen said in an email to The Hustler.

Christiansen also stated that the university has added 64 class sections this summer to meet the increased demand.

“Above all, we are pleased to be able to accommodate the needs of our students and provide opportunities for continued scholarship during this challenging time,” Christiansen said.