The costs for online classes have been a continuous concern for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette students, especially after the transition to online learning due to COVID-19.
According to Dr. DeWayne Bowie, the Vice President for Enrollment Management, most financial confusions about extra charges came about when certain online certified teachers that held their class in-person prior to COVID-19 had to switch to online learning, which then led to students seeing an unexpected fee.
Some certified teachers, before COVID-19, had the option to teach some of their sections in-person and some online. However, some of those instructors moved their in-person classes to strictly online classes because of COVID-19, therefore, students ended up having to pay the online fee since the instructor was certified and using unique online digital learning advancements.
“They began to use the technology that we had in place, and they were certified to teach online,” Bowie said. “Those students did incur that fee.”
According to Bowie, online courses have been offered traditionally before the start of COVID-19 restrictions. With certified online faculty as instructors, students are expected to pay an online course fee per credit hour. The fee is known as “E-Learning” on student accounts and is $30 per credit hour.
“That money is then used by the faculty for what they need for the course to teach the class. It also goes to our district learning office to help them to develop and maintain our online courses that we have,”
To be certified to teach an online course, teachers went through a certification process through UL Lafayette. Those teachers were given access to some special technologies.
“Faculty that wish to be certified online have to go through certain training, and they also have to go through professional development after their training to maintain that online certification,” Bowie said.
Not all teachers are certified; therefore, those courses didn’t require a course fee.
According to Bowie, students who were put into remote classes were not charged a fee because their instructor was not a part of the program for online certified teachers.
“Remote is like classes that utilize online technology to deliver the course during emergencies like what we’re doing for COVID,” Bowie said
Although remote forms of learning with uncertified online teachers did not require a course fee, a testing fee might’ve also left students with an additional financial obligation.
Online proctored exams did require a proctoring fee. Therefore, some of the remote and hyflex classes found a way to have a proctored exam setting without adding another testing fee for students.
According to Bowie, the administration established a testing center at Blackham Coliseum for students. Online courses continued to have proctored online exams since they’ve always been like that.
“Online classes still have a proctored fee. Those have been traditionally online that we’ve been doing historically for a number of years. Nothing changed with that format for those classes. It was just the new format that we had transitioned many of our sections to due to COVID-19,” Bowie said.
Some students encountered confusion during the transition to online learning when it came to knowing whether or not they would get charged an additional fee.
Rosalie Michot is a sophomore UL Lafayette student, and she recalled her French class’s transition to online. She hadn’t noticed the extra fee for the course at first.
“With my other online classes, I haven’t noticed any extra prices. It’s only that one because it says that it’s only an online section,” Michot said.
According to Bowie, hybrid and online classes are the only types of classes that charge students an E-learning fee. The university had previous experience with online and hybrid course styles, however, remote and hyflex course styles are new because of public health circumstances.
Students can go to the registrar’s office website to see a definition of the various course deliveries.
“When you schedule your classes, they let you know how those courses are being delivered,” Bowie said.