Colleges And Universities Reducing Frills

By Staff

June 23, 2009

In an effort to keep tuition costs down, some states are considering opening up small, inexpensive, "no-frills" colleges, while existing institutions are experimenting with cutting costs in areas such as housekeeping and cable.

ABC News reports that the Arizona Board of Regents is considering proposals from Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University to open up less expensive satellite campuses. The new colleges, which would offer fewer majors, would aim to attract students who cannot afford four-year schools but wish to attain bachelor's degrees over two-year community college degrees. The programs offered would be highly structured with few extra-curricular studies and electives.

"There is high demand" for such colleges, said ASU President Michael Crow. Indeed, no-frills colleges have been gaining appeal: Similar programs have been set up in North Carolina, Indiana and New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania is considering opening a no-frills college as well.

If the proposal is approved, the first baccalaureate college is expected to open in 2010, with tuition of about $5,800 annually--the maximum amount students can receive from the Federal Pell Grant Program.

Meanwhile, Inside Higher Ed reports that the Massachusetts School of Law announced plans to create a no-frills college strictly for juniors and seniors, and focusing solely on history. Slated to begin in August 2010, the American College of History and Legal Studies will operate in Salem, New Hampshire--the same town where a no-frills satellite of Southern New Hampshire University opened last fall.

Lawrence R. Velvel, the dean of the law school, explained that the new school is being constructed in New Hampshire because Massachusetts defines two-year colleges as those leading to associate degrees or transferring to a four-year institution, rather than "completion" colleges that offer only junior and senior years.

Velvel remarked that the new institution would keep costs down by not building a fancy campus, having a library that is mostly digital, and not offering residential or student activities. Tuition is expected to be $10,000 a year--low compared to most private colleges.

Other schools are cutting back on frills as well. The New York Times reports that Ohio's Oberlin College saved $22,300 by cutting back on window washing, Pennsylvania's Dickinson College saved $75,000 by getting rid of HBO and ESPN in student dorm rooms and the University of Washington saved $1,100 a month by cancelling landline phone service.

"We found a way of saving money that doesn't hurt the student experience," explained David Domke, who chairs the UW's communications department, "and I think everybody's happy."

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