Southern New Hampshire University is setting annual tuition for campus-based programs at $10,000 or $15,000 starting next fall, more than halving its current rate, it announced Wednesday.
The $15,000 programs will mostly feature face-to-face instruction, while the $10,000 ones will have a mix of in-person and online formats. Both will include hands-on learning experiences, such as internships and project-based courses.
The university said it has been working on these new models for years but accelerated their rollout to help students afford college in light of the pandemic.
Southern New Hampshire, which teased the change earlier this year, said it was able to reduce tuition rates for its campus-based programs by finding efficiencies in academic delivery and student support.
The college is still hammering out the details, but it's exploring ways it can use some of the same services it provides for its roughly 150,000 online-only students with its campus-based learners, said Southern New Hampshire President Paul LeBlanc. The college is also eliminating merit-based scholarships in favor of need-based aid.
The six $10,000 programs are more career-focused than Southern New Hampshire's other offerings and will be available to first-year students and sophomores. They include majors in game art and interactive design, communications and construction management. All other programs will be priced at $15,000.
Students in the lower-priced programs will spend less time in traditional classroom settings and instead interact with faculty members serving in roles such as academic coaches, project leads and internship advisors.
They will also earn at least 36 credits — which roughly equates to 12 classes — via experiential learning, such as project-based courses, internships and industry certifications. Students in the $15,000 programs can also opt in to some of the more hands-on experiences, according to the announcement.
The changes bring down some of the barriers between the college's online and campus-based operations. Students in the $10,000 programs, for instance, may enroll in some of the same classes as online-only students.
Southern New Hampshire is also modestly reducing room and board costs, while keeping fees flat.
The university aims to grow campus-based enrollment from about 3,000 students to 4,500 students by 2025. Doing so "takes off some of the pressure of finding efficiencies," LeBlanc said, adding that early responses to the changes suggest they will attract more interest from students.
First-year students who started in-person programs this fall at Southern New Hampshire received full-tuition scholarships and took their classes online. They will be able to opt into either pricing model, though rising juniors and above will only be able to take the $15,000 programs.
The pandemic has exacerbated pressure on colleges to lower tuition, LeBlanc said.
Several wealthy, private colleges reduced tuition for the fall term, including Williams College and Princeton and Georgetown universities. While some colleges are continuing the practice into the spring, at least one, Johns Hopkins University, said it would end its 10% tuition discount it offered for the fall term in 2021.