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Honors College discontinues tuition waivers, reintroduces research grants

Miami University’s Honors College is discontinuing tuition waivers for its students to study abroad and reintroducing grants for undergraduate research, according to an email sent to honors students on Sept. 1.

Zeb Baker, director of the Honors College, said the tuition waivers have existed for almost two decades and were created when Miami was pushing for students to participate in study abroad programs. The Honors College issued waivers to students competitively for spring and winter term programs.

“We were very fortunate in the Honors College ... that we have had that kind of support, but priorities change,” Baker said.

Although the tuition waivers were issued through the Honors College, the funding was included in the university’s central budget. This year, the university decided to set aside that money for other programs, such as helping send other students abroad, not just honors students.

“That's a decision that I support,” Baker said. “Because … I think that in the time in which we have a limited set of resources that we make sure that all students have the opportunity, particularly if they have significant financial need, to be able to go study abroad.”

Enrico Torres, a sophomore integrated language arts education major, said he was hoping to apply for a tuition waiver to study abroad.

“I personally am disappointed, because I really wanted to take advantage of the study abroad opportunities presented through Miami,” Torres said. “I feel like my membership in the honors college has been lessened or just doesn’t feel as valuable.”

Torres, however, recognizes the importance of extending the funding to all students.

“That is quite nice that they extended it to the broader student body … but it does affect my plans,” he said.

Micaela Anders, a junior political science and history double major, said she was counting on the tuition waivers to be able to study abroad.

“It was really discouraging how they took it away because that was going to be my only opportunity to study abroad,” Anders said.” So now that it’s not there, I can’t study abroad. I can’t afford it. I think that was one of the main perks of the honors program when I applied to it.”

The Honors College was new last academic year, developing from what used to be the Honors Program. The discontinuation of study abroad tuition waivers aligns with a change of values between the two, Baker said.

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“The Honors Program was much more about co-curricular experiences and co-curricular learning, so trying to help facilitate students to go study abroad would have been something central to what we were trying to do as an honors program,” Baker said. “As an Honors College, we're really working hard to build a culture of undergraduate research.”

The research grants are also issued competitively, but unlike the tuition waivers, the funding comes from within the Honors College. Research grants weren’t available to students last academic year because the COVID-19 pandemic prevented in-person research opportunities.

This year, students are once again encouraged to apply for research grants. Baker said the Honors College has about $200,000 in grants to give out.

“​​That really is now the focus of honors education at Miami – trying to get students involved in meaningful undergraduate research,” Baker said. “So we feel good about it in that sense, and we also feel good about it because it's money that we control. They’re from donors who have set up endowed research funds through the years.”