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CALS Online Distance Revenue Policy

Revised September 2014, 2017

This policy replaces all previous CALS online distance education Revenue Policies.

It is the goal of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) to build a nationally and internationally recognized online distance education (DE) program.  The college will continue to return a significant portion of the online distance education revenues to participating departments so they may continue to invest in online courses, certificates, and programs.  CALS has reviewed online distance education policies in other colleges in preparing this policy. The college will seek comments from departments annually on this policy. 

The college will continue to cover the “Allocated Costs” for students during the duration of this policy. The allocated cost per student is based on the previous fall enrollment.  Undergraduate allocated costs are less than graduate allocated costs. 

The college delivery fee is allocated to the Brenton Center for Agricultural Instruction and Technology Transfer to help defray the various costs associated with the creation, support, delivery, technology, and facility costs to offer online distance education courses, certificates, and programs.

Costs of offering a course are expected to be borne by the department offering the course, including materials related to the mechanics of teaching the course, such as course outlines, syllabi, exams, and similar handouts, and the purchase and replacement costs of instructional equipment with a typically expected usable life of more than five years.  The department is also expected to bear the costs of staffing courses, including personnel employed to aid in the course such as teaching assistants and guest speakers.  Exceptions to this basic principle arise when there are unusual and/or extraordinary costs associated with offering a course.

Departments may add delivery fees to recover unusual and/or extraordinary costs, but must follow the current University Delivery Fee Policy.  Department delivery fees must be approved by the college and the college will maintain a written copy of all departmental delivery fees.  Delivery fees are typically approved each January for the next fiscal year.  Departmental delivery fees will be paid in July and January after bad debt has been removed.

Anticipated online distance education revenue (tuition) will be provided annually to departments in a special allocation at the beginning of fall semester. ISU deducts an amount from the gross assessed tuition to account for tuition that is not expected to be collected during the fiscal year.  The Board of Regents requires each institution to set aside a minimum amount of the tuition paid by all students to be distributed in the form of financial aid.  Remaining tuition revenue after the departmental special allocation has been paid will be retained by the college to help to defray existing allocated costs charged to the college on every online distance education learning student whether they are enrolled part-time or full-time, and some central common services.

This modified process will provide access to funds early in the fiscal year and departments will be expected to utilize these funds to manage and grow online student credit hours (SCH) with the addition of new courses, certificates, or programs. Department chairs will invest at least $25/SCH in expanding or strengthening distance education offerings and will submit a report of these investments on an annual basis during their annual review.  The college recommends that future position descriptions and PRS for new faculty who will be engaged in teaching contain online teaching responsibilities so they are part of in load expectation.  Appropriate investments could include development of new courses/programs or revisions of existing courses/programs offered to distance education audiences, investments in online education for flipped classrooms, and similar investments.  The level of reporting expected is a listing of objectives that the department pursued to grow their offerings and a short narrative on achievements relative to these objectives.  It is not expected that a separate accounting be established for tracking these investments, nor is it expected that the summary of investments will include specific cost data.  The college is only interested in the objectives and outcomes of these investments.

The special allocation is a projection based on the previous year Student Credit Hours (SCH) from “true distance students”. Records will be kept for the current fiscal year to determine if a department increases or decreases their online SCH from “true distance students”.  This data will determine any increase or decrease in departmental special allocations for the next fiscal year.  A “true distance student” is one that is not enrolled in any face-to-face courses at ISU during the active semester.

CALS will utilize the following rates/SCH for revenue distribution for true online distance education learning students enrolled in online course sections.  GPIDEA/AGIDEA student tuition is covered under the current GPIDEA guidelines and is not covered by this policy.

CALS Online Distance Tuition Policy (True Distance Students)

CALS Graduate Online Distance Degree Programs (core/required courses in dept.) $325/SCH
CALS Graduate Online Distance Certificate Programs (core/required courses in dept.) $225/SCH
CALS Graduate Online Distance Individual Courses (excluding 590/599/699) $175/SCH
CALS Undergrad Online Distance Certificate Programs (core/required courses in dept.) $125/SCH
CALS Undergraduate Online Distance Individual Courses $100/SCH

Departments should aim to spend a minimum of 50% of distance education tuition funds yearly.

The rationale for distributing different amounts of revenue includes:

  1. Graduate online distance education courses generate more revenue so the amount returned to departments will be higher.
  2. Complete degree programs and certificates generate more revenue so the amount returned to departments will be higher. They also require more investment than single online courses, they are easier to market, they attract a greater number of students each semester, and courses in the program/certificate are less likely to be cancelled.