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The cost of skipping class

Students who skip classes may be doing so without an understanding of the price they pay per class, according to recent calculations by University of Massachusetts professor Julie Brigham-Grette.

Adding up the costs of tuition and then dividing the sum by the amount of credit hours enrolled in per week can show the value of each lecture attended or missed, according to Julie Brigham-Grette’s calculations.

“It’s a ‘back of the envelope’ type of thing that places all of the costs of the University into a price per class,” Brigham-Grette said.

The price does not however “place any value on non-class experiences or what it costs to keep lights on and the buildings warm,” she said.

For a UMass undergrad, tuition – excluding room and board, as well as additional fees – can cost anywhere from $13,230 to $26,650, according to the UMass undergraduate admissions website.

Using Brigham-Grette’s calculations, a typical in-state student with a minimum tuition of $13,230 (without financial aid) and 16 credit hours would have a cost per-hour class range from $50 to $70. Out of state students, who pay $26,645 for tuition before financial aid, would pay between $100 and $140.

If a student misses the first two lectures during the add-drop period, the professor has the right to drop them from the class, according to UMass Academic Regulations. The regulations do state, however, that “students should be aware that non-attendance is not a means of automatically dropping a course.”

Though professors may not drop a student due to attendance after add-drop, professors have full responsibility of attendance policies, according to the academic regulations.

There are still some basic attendance rules which the University expects all students to follow. Absences need to be excused for there to be no grade penalty, according to the attendance policy viewable on the registrar’s webpage.

But for all excused absences, students must still meet any and all requirements of the class, and instructors need to allow for make-up work to be completed.

Excused absences can still come at a certain price for some students since tuition is paid before attending classes, according to the attendance policy.

Brigham-Grette’s insight into attendance rules is not only from the position of a University faculty member, but also as the parent of a UMass student.

She said the “University is very special and students (and faculty) should appreciate the value we place in our classroom experiences.”

George Felder can be reached at gfelder@student.umass.edu.

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