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Tuition-Free UROPs May Benefit Students

The Tech received a copy of this letter, addressed to Provost Mark S. Wrighton, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Travis R. Merritt, Undergraduate Association President Hans Godfrey '94, and UA Floor Leader Raajnish A. Chitaley '95:

Currently, it would cost an MIT student approximately $12,000 for a full-time summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program for credit: $10,000 for tuition, and approximately $2,000 for living expenses. This is a rather restrictive cost and prevents most people from doing a summer UROP for credit, giving MIT almost zero revenue from summer UROPs.

If, however, there was no tuition cost, the only barrier would be the $2,000 or so of living expenses. Granted, most MIT students would still not be able to take a $2,000 loss over the summer. But even if there were 20 students who could afford it, then there would be an extra 20 students who would have a UROP over the summer. Since MIT currently gains no money from summer credit UROPs, there would be no loss and possibly even a small increase in revenue from summer housing at MIT.

Why would a student choose to do a summer UROP for credit rather than pay? Perhaps he had a bad term, and needs to boost his grade point average. Granted, giving a student 40 units of A or B could put a kink in the GPA, but perhaps the student could still earn 12 or even 20 units of a grade. Junior Lab for Physics students is worth 18 units, and Projects Lab for Aeronautics and Astronautics students is worth 24 units.

Another possible option is for the student to work both on- and off-campus during the summer. Working 20 hours for UROP credit allows the student valuable research experience as well as credit. Working another 20 hours a week off campus at a local job could very easily earn the student $1,000 (20 hours per week for 10 weeks, at $5 per hour).

A student can live in an Independent Living Group fairly cheaply (members, especially), and possibly bring summer expenses down to maybe $1,500 for the summer. With a $1,000 income, he or she effectively pays $500 for 20 units of credit, a bargain by MIT standards.

This certainly not solve all of the financial problems the UROP program is now facing, but this zero-cost (to MIT) plan, can only help students.

Mark A. Herschberg, '95

Interfraternity Council Representative

Undergraduate Association Council