Career And Education News

By Staff
February 6, 2009

Colleges around the country are considering providing no-frills, lower-cost education for students who are solely interested in receiving degrees, without the traditional amenities of higher education.

The Boston Globe reports this week on a satellite of Southern New Hampshire University, located in the town of Salem, which occupies the third floor of a brick building in a suburban office park. The tuition for this college - which lacks a gym, pool, and dormitory - costs just $10,000 a year. The college is located just 20 miles south of the school's main campus in Manchester, where students pay $25,000 to attend classes taught by some of the same professors.

Not everybody necessarily requires athletics, dormitories, and extracurricular activities, noted Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire, in the Globe. "I'm not sure that improves education. It just drives the price up. Not everybody needs it, and frankly, not everybody can afford it."

In Pennsylvania, where tuitions rank as among the highest in the country, a "no-frills" college is gaining appeal. Recently, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education proposed that such an institution be developed to allow students to pursue affordable degrees. The school would be similar to a community college, but would offer four-year degrees instead of two-year associate degrees.

Doing so would be just one way the state is planning to boost aid to college students. In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer [from an article originally located at], Gov. Ed Rendell noted that college spending would be one of the most important initiatives in his budget. His plan, which was introduced this week, calls for providing $128 million in grants for college students.

Rendell said that the state's Board of Education had influenced his thinking, but he was primarily affected by hearing from parents around the state who are struggling to afford college for their children.

Meanwhile, in Nashua, New Hampshire, Daniel Webster College is considering offering a sizable tuition break to freshman who live at home and commute to the main campus. The cost per year would be $15,000 for commuting students, rather than $26,000 for on-campus students.

Experts disagree whether a college education without the campus is as effective as a traditional residential college experience. "A no-frills approach is better than nothing, but it's very difficult to achieve the same thing as having a total educational experience that comes with living on campus," noted Richard Ekman, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Council of Independent Colleges, who was quoted in the Globe.

But families struggling with finances may very well regard the "no-frills" trend as a viable alternative. "Somewhere," said Joseph Torsella, Pennsylvania's Board of Education chairman, quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer [from an article originally located at], "there should be a no-frills option."

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