SD universities cut costs by narrowing offeringsSIOUX FALLS (AP) — Funding cuts by cash-strapped legislatures have prompted many state universities to raise tuition, but some institutions are trying to buck the trend.
By: Dirk Lammers, The Associated Press
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Funding cuts by cash-strapped legislatures have prompted many state universities to raise tuition, but some institutions are trying to buck the trend.
University Center, an extended campus that offers classes from state universities in South Dakota's largest city, is kicking off a four-year pilot program this fall that offers the first 60 hours of degree work at a reduced cost. The cost of basic courses would be $189 per credit hour, instead of the normal state university rate of $289.
The program is among a number of experiments under way across higher education to help students earn degrees without having to go deeply in debt.
Mark Lee, the executive dean of University Center, said the program will offer students at the Sioux Falls campus center a potential savings of up to $6,000 for the first 60 hours of pre-baccalaureate work.
The courses would be no different than the versions offered on the main campuses, but the selection would be limited to more general classes, such as Principals of Accounting and Composition I.
"People are really nervous about what it costs for higher education. That's the national dialogue," Lee said. "Places like University Center and some of these other places are saying, 'And we're going to do something about it, or at least we're going to try.'"
Lee said he expects the new price to draw students who might not otherwise have enrolled. But the school can't afford to offer all university courses at the lower price, he said. Students who take basic courses at the discounted rate can move on to more specialized courses at the normal cost.
Recently, top officials in several states have called on public universities to offer more affordable options for earning a college degree.
With financial pressures in higher education growing, universities must find creative ways to serve more students with the same curriculum and resources, according to Henry Eyring, co-author of "The Innovative University," which explores tuition and curriculum variations.
He said some universities can also save costs by providing more online courses or going to a year-round schedule that makes better use of their facilities.
Another college now offering a new discounted option is Arizona State University, which this fall will open a new Lake Havasu City campus that will charge students an annual base tuition of $6,000, compared to more than $9,000 at the main campus.
For freshmen, "there's a set of courses that are being offered, and they all take the same courses," said David Young, director of the campus. "That keeps costs way down."