AskDefine | Define tuition

Dictionary Definition



1 a fee paid for instruction (especially for higher education); "tuition and room and board were more than $25,000"
2 teaching pupils individually (usually by a tutor hired privately) [syn: tutelage, tutorship]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a sum of money paid for instruction (such as in a high school, university, or college)
  2. the training or instruction provided by a teacher or tutor


a sum of money paid for instruction
the training or instruction provided by a teacher or tutor
  • ttbc Arabic: اجور الدراسة

Extensive Definition

Tuition means instruction or teaching. In American English, the term tuition is often used to refer to a fee charged for educational instruction; especially at a formal institution of learning or by a private tutor usually in the form of one-to-one tuition. This article uses the latter meaning of the term.
Tuition is charged by educational institutions in some countries to assist with funding of staff and faculty, course offerings, lab equipment, computer systems, libraries, facility upkeep and to provide a comfortable student learning experience.
Some methods students use to pay tuition include:
Most students who pay for tuition have fees that are greater than their savings. Thus, some students have to take part time jobs and/or take out loans. Those who take part time jobs worry about handling both the course load and working. Those who take out loans have to ensure they are able to repay or else risk bad credit ratings.
Students have private tuition for any one of a number of reasons:
  • To improve grades
  • To get into a particular school, college or university
  • To assist with Special Needs
  • To undertake corporate training for their company
  • General improvement (adult learners)
Developed countries have adopted a dual scheme for education: while basic (i.e. high-school) education is supported by taxes rather than tuition, higher education is usually given for a fee or tuition.

History of tuition

In medieval Europe, the universities were institutions of Roman Catholic Church. As they mainly trained clergy, these universities did not have any need to exact tuition from the students. Their situation was comparable with the modern corporate universities and military academies. Later in protestant countries and in Russia, the main duty of the universities was the training of future civil servants. Again, it was not in the interest of the state to charge tuition, as this would have decreased the quality of civil servants. On the other hand, the number of students from lower-classes was usually kept in check by the expenses of living during the years of study, although as early as in the middle 19th century there were calls for limiting the university entrance by middle-class persons. However, a typical family could not afford educating a son, let alone a daughter, even if the education itself was free. A similar situation exists in many Third World countries, where the expenses of "free" school (e.g. food, books, school uniform) prevent a lot of children from attending even primary school.
After World War II, the enhanced standard of living and free university education present in many countries enabled an enormous amount of working-class youths to receive a degree, resulting in the inflation of education and enlarged middle classes. In countries with tuition, similar progress was effected with state study loans, grants and scholarships, with the G.I. Bill and other financial instruments. It has been proposed that the strong class separations visible in the British society result from the fact that the expansion of education there has been less efficient than in the Continental Europe.

Social effects of tuition

Tuition raises interesting questions about the divisions between the rich and poor. It is well-known that high tuition fees are a deterrent to students wishing to undertake higher education. This level of deterrence is not unfamiliar with the financial capacities of the student and his family; effectively, students from richer families will be able to afford more expensive education.
There is also substantial evidence that education levels are primordial in determining salary. This leads to the natural conclusion that higher tuition rates are an important factor of the low permeability between social classes: children of rich parents tend to be rich themselves, and poorer families yield poor children. This in turn can cause class tensions and an increasing gap between rich and poor.
Recently, processes such as the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid), have allowed poorer students to gain a college education through government subsidies designed to eliminate the difference between the rich and poor. The process allocates a portion of tuition as expected family contribution, which is derived from family savings and income, the rest of which is presumptively met by a financial aid package, generally a portfolio of federal, state, and private loans and grants. The program has allowed many poor students to attend colleges and universities that would otherwise be unaffordable. Criticism of the government program, however, has arisen from those who believe that the expected family contributions are too high for most middle-class families to afford. These people often claim that, in order to attend an expensive university, one has to be "either very rich, or very poor."
Even in countries where tuition fees have generally been much lower than average, the general trend has been towards marked increases in tuition. For example, Canada has seen its tuition fees more than double in the last ten years.
In this respect tuition has turned from the private governor/governess of the Victorian era providing education to a privileged few to a non-elitist and cosmopolitan service for the masses.


tuition in German: Studiengebühr
tuition in Hebrew: שכר לימוד
tuition in Hungarian: Tandíj
tuition in Malay (macrolanguage): Tuisyen
tuition in Polish: Czesne
tuition in Russian: стипендия

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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