FIU Online is wasted potential

Equalizing in-person and online tuition would be a good start, but that won’t be enough to compete nationally. | Sim Sitzer, PantherNOW

Sim Sitzer | Contributing Writer

FIU offers the largest number of online bachelor’s programs in the state, but charging online students more than in-person students is stunting its growth potential. 

As a fully online student, of course I want to keep my tuition costs down, but I also believe FIU is hindering itself with its current rates.

When students register for an online course on MyFIU, a notice appears about an additional $30 per credit — up to $90 – for the course. For a 15-credit semester, that comes out to an extra $450 – which no college student has laying around.

Why are online students being charged more than in-person students? If anything, online students should be paying less than in-person students. 

Besides for those living in Miami, many online students don’t utilize the beautiful but expensive university infrastructure on FIU’s campuses. Nor do they largely participate in FIU’s clubs and Student Life programming.

When it comes to the diversity of subjects offered, FIU has a significant lead over its top Florida competitors. FIU offers approximately 40 unique online bachelor’s degrees compared to the 28 at University of Central Florida, 27 at University of Florida and 13 at Full Sail University.

In terms of actual enrollment, FIU is first in the State University System of Florida with approximately 14,000 fully online students, again followed by UCF and UF.

But Florida’s largest for-profit university, Full Sail University, is growing quickly and may already have more online students than FIU.

Not only must FIU sharpen its competitive edge against its Florida counterparts, but it ought to venture forth into the national and international arena.

FIU has the potential to become a top online university in the country which would only benefit the university. This would bring more money and jobs flowing into Miami and Florida, and bring further prestige to FIU and the State University System of Florida.

Just like we are witnessing the proliferation of remote work in the post-Covid era, the remote university industry has the potential to grow exponentially.

Instead, FIU took a step in the wrong direction.

FIU hiked the pre-fee tuition rate for online out-of-state students from $5,188 for a 15-credit semester, to $9,733 for students who started in Fall 2023 or later. Almost a doubling of the tuition.

To add insult to injury, online out-of-state students are now paying more than their in-person out-of-state counterparts, when you factor in the extra $450 per 15-credit semester online fee.

FIU needs to rethink its online strategy. Equalizing in-person and online tuition would be a good start, but that won’t be enough to compete nationally.

FIU should conduct an analysis as to how much it can reduce its online tuition prices and make respective cuts to both in-state and out-of-state online tuition rates, with special emphasis on the out-of-state rates.

Limiting online students’ access to campus and Student Life programming is a fair way to make up for the cuts. FIU could then allow online students in Miami to “opt-in” to in-person programming by paying a premium, or just the standard in-person tuition.

Prospective online students outside Miami are more than happy to pay for top notch faculty, administrative services and IT systems, but they are not going to underwrite the FIU 2030 Strategic Plan for new housing, campus development projects and in-person activities.

10 years down the line, FIU Online can be a world-renowned online university offering high quality and affordable degrees to tens of thousands of students from places such as Iowa, Mexico or Saudi Arabia. It just needs to position itself in the market tactically.

A strategic marketing campaign selling the country and the world on an education based out of the ever-alluring and international city that is Miami wouldn’t hurt either.


The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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