The Affordability Workgroup of the SUS 2025 Online Education Strategic Plan Implementation Committee was charged by the Steering Committee to determine the cost of distance learning. The charge was a direct result of the Florida Legislature capping the distance learning fee at $30. To arrive at the cost was an interesting journey for everyone involved. How can a cost model be built for distance learning when the cost for face-to-face courses is difficult to determine? Could the model account for the variability of the different delivery models be used across the system?

On Monday, October 18th, the Implementation Committee with the support of distance learning leaders across the state presented a report to the Online and Innovation Committee at the Board of Governor’s Committee meeting on the findings of the various groups involved in the creation of the report. The costs were broken down into four categories: (a) online course and faculty development, (b) technology and infrastructure, (c) support services, and (d) administrative services. Within each of those categories, the average cost of the distance learning across the system was determined. Combining the averages from the categories resulted in an overall cost of $41.48. With this as the average cost, the group concluded that each of the institutions were picking up some expenses through other forms of funding.

Category in Cost Model Average Cost per Student Credit Hour
Online Course and Faculty Development $ 10.13
Technology and Infrastructure $   9.74
Support Services $ 10.51
Administrative Services  $ 11.10
Total Incremental Costs/SCH $ 41.48

 

For a full description of the distance learning fees and analysis, the Cost of Online Education report is available online.