Tuition Fees, Tuition Support and the First-Timer Discount

Nicola Daniels, Registrar

The Bahá’í month of Sharaf (Honor)—December 31, 2019 to January 18, 2020—seems a good time to reflect on the Wilmette Institute’s tuition support policy, and to show how learners can access the funds donated to the Institute for the purpose of providing tuition support.

The Wilmette Institute aims to facilitate “consultation, action, and reflection for personal and collective transformation toward the common good.” It recognizes the unique capacity of each of its learners to “become a source of social good” as described in this passage from The Secret of Divine Civilization:

“And the honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world’s multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization)

Why the Wilmette Institute charges fees for its courses. I am sometimes asked “Why does the Wilmette Institute charge for its courses?” Here are the reasons:

  • The Institute was mandated to be independent of the Bahá’í funds when it was established in 1995.
  • We have to pay staff, and we provide many faculty an honorarium for their many hours of professional teaching efforts.
  • We have numerous software, communications, and publicity expenses, like any professional organization would.
  • We have also found that when people pay something, however small, they take the course more seriously.

The Wilmette Institute realizes that some learners cannot afford to pay the full fee for all the courses they would like to take. Using resources from its donors, the Institute is pleased and honored to make tuition support funds available to anyone wishing to take its courses.

Four ways the Wilmette Institute provides tuition support to its learners.

1.  Installment payment plans (the most popular option)
If you are unable to pay full tuition at the time of registration, you may pay in up to four monthly installments. The first payment is typically made by credit card during a phone conversation with the Registrar. Subsequent installment payments are charged to the same credit card by the Registrar. An electronic receipt is sent to the learner each time their credit card is charged.

2.  Full tuition support (scholarships)
If you are unable to make a contribution toward your tuition fee, you may apply for tuition support using our online application form.  Academic credentials are not required, therefore the term scholarship—which implies a grant awarded on the basis of academic or other achievement—has been replaced with tuition support.

3.  Partial tuition support
Some learners just need a little help to reduce their fee. The application form is simple. Tell us how much you can afford; the Registrar will arrange the payment and cover your balance from tuition support funds. Partial tuition support may be combined with an installment payment plan.

Typical fees and discounts for 2020

4.  Automated Discounts
The Institute offers four types of discounts on an honor system (see illustration above). The typical fee for a 6-9 week course is $75.00. An additional 10% early registration discount will be applied (automatically) to your account if you register a month or more before the start of the course.

First-time Wilmette Institute students 30% discount
Seniors 65 years or older 20% discount
Full-time students also receive an automatic 20% discount, as do Bahá’í pioneers, including home-front pioneers
*Study Group Members get a 40% discount. A group may be as small as two; married couples often  choose to register as a group

*Group member benefits accrue after the study group is set up by the ‘Primary Registrant’, who pays the full Individual fee (or the First-Timer fee if eligible).

These automated discounts do not apply if a student is taking a course for college credit, because proof of ID is required. A separate tuition support application is used for college credit applicants.

Tuition Support forms for 2020. The Registrar’s office looks forward to receiving your tuition support applications in 2020. You can expect to receive a response within 48 hours.

2020 Tuition Support application (
Use the form above for all courses, unless you are applying to take a college-level course for college credit.

For College/Credit students (see also Taking Wilmette Institute Courses for College)
2020 Tuition Support (College/Credit Courses) application (


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