Southern New Hampshire University's College for America will be the first program to offer a $10,000 total cost bachelor's degree. The degree will cost $2,500 a year and will be done through certain employers.
The program will be given out by College for America, which is an online offshoot of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). The college keeps its expenditures low by offering classes online only. It is run solely through employers, writes Karen Farkas for The Plain Dealer.
However, high school graduates should not chomp at the bit just yet. The degree program is only for working adults whose employers want them to learn a specific set of skill in addition to ones already possessed. Peter Coy for Business Week writes:
College for America "recognizes the knowledge and skills that our folks already have, so they're not sitting through an Introduction to Business course that they could probably teach," says Lisa Schumacher, director of education strategies at McDonald's. Mary Jane Ryan, workforce development director at Partners, told me the pilot project with College for America is going "fabulously well."
The employers, such as McDonald's and some healthcare companies, usually reimburse their employee's educational costs, reports Farkas. Those employees that do not get reimbursed can apply for financial aid. More than 200 employers have thus far shown interest.
Almost 800 employees from more than 50 businesses have applied and enrolled in the existing online program in the last year. Twenty of them have thus far graduated, according to Holley Ramer of the Boston Globe. SNHU president Paul LeBlanc said employers ranging from fast food restaurants to healthcare companies to insurance companies like that the skills taught in the online classes are the same skills employees often lack. These skills include the ability to work as a team or even basic writing skills. Companies also like that each skill is clearly defined.
"This is the most remarkably priced college degree in the country, and the truth is that the price is the least remarkable thing about it," said LeBlanc in a press release. "What draws students and employers is the promise of mastering competencies they can immediately apply in their workplace. The price is just our way to make it accessible as widely as possible."
With rising college costs and high unemployment rates, students exit college with an average of $29,000 in debt. There is also the argument that questions whether or not college adequately prepares students to compete for the kinds of jobs that would help them pay off their debts, writes Coy.
Community colleges and online educational institutions are taking advantage of this fact, often to students' advantage. These more affordable college options are beginning to understand how to grow around servicing busy working adults and single parents and their employers. They are often cheaper and offer a more practical skill set, reports Coy.