In an era of rising college costs and dwindling subsidies for higher education, colleges and universities have turned to differential tuition policies to help close fiscal gaps. A recent study by CRHEO's Gregory Wolniak and several colleagues found that differential tuition policies exist at roughly 60 percent of four-year public research universities, based on a national sample.

While justification for these practices varies by institution and program structure, Wolniak points to the potential consequences of obscuring the real costs of college, particularly for students from historically underserved groups and socieconomically disadvantaged communities. 

In a recent conversation with Market Watch reporter Jillian Berman, Wolniak said, “What we know very clearly is that the more complicated any system is, (the more) it disproportionately disadvantages or burdens students with the least resources."

To learn more about how institutions justify complex tuition policies, and what they mean for college affordability, check out the full article on MarketWatch.