The Florida university system sees online classes as a means to reduce the cost of an education as well as a faster route to obtaining a bachelor’s degree. To that end, the system is ramping up its efforts to enroll 40% of its undergraduates in online courses by 2025.
One of the ways the system will do that, according to a report in the Sun Sentinel, is by cutting distance-learning fees for online classes. Currently six schools in the system charge students more to take a course online rather than in a physical classroom.
A report by the system’s Board of Governors Innovation and Online Committee noted 37 other states charge similar fees to cover the cost of redeveloping a course for an online format, but the report also estimated substantial savings in classroom maintenance and construction if more students can take courses from home.
The report also found that the availability of online classes helped students to graduate more quickly. Students who took no online classes needed 4.3 years on average to earn their degrees, while students who enrolled in online courses for at least 20% of their credit hours managed to finish in four years flat. The online classes may have provided a solution when students were unable to attend required courses in person.
The Florida universities also plan to make some online courses available to students systemwide.