The State University of New York (SUNY) system plans to save its college students money by offering new online degrees and three-year degrees. It is up to each student to decide through college prep whether or not to choose a new program or the traditional four or five year campus experience to earn their bachelor's degree.
Online programs cost less than programs offered at traditional brick and mortar campus settings. College costs can be reduced further if students shave a year or more off total college attendance to earn their degree.
These cost-cutting measures are part of a new national model for higher education, Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher announced in her third annual State of the University Address. Calling the plan a "cradle to career education roadmap," Chancellor Zimpher said,
"(W)e need a comprehensive plan to get more students into college, graduating on time, and graduating ready for successful careers."
SUNY has plans to become the nation's largest public provider of higher education online. There are 64 campuses, including Stony Brook University, Farmingdale State College, and the College at Old Westbury on Long Island, and more than 34,000 faculty throughout New York State. It is the largest public university system in the country.
"In three years, we will enroll 100,000 degree-seeking students in Open SUNY, making us the largest public online provider of education in the nation."
Open SUNY will start with 10 online bachelor’s degree programs that meet high-need career demands. Three will start this fall and seven in the fall of 2014. Financial aid also will be available. "No institution in America – not even the for-profits – will be able to match the number of offerings and the quality of instruction," Chancellor Zimpher said.
SUNY will soon be making available massive open online courses, or MOOCs, to expand their online portfolio. "This year, members of the SUNY Distinguished Academy, established by the Board of Trustees in 2012, will begin uploading their best lectures," said Chancellor Zimpher. They join the list of professors at elite private institutions that started the practice of offering free online classes.
3 year degrees
SUNY will offer students the chance to graduate in three years. The average SUNY student now takes 4.4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree, slightly less than the national average 4.5 years, Chancellor Zimpher noted.
Given the choice of a three-year degree, she estimated that by 2015, 25 percent of SUNY students will be on this "Smart Track."
"The average indebtedness of a SUNY graduate is $22,575, below the national average of $26,600," Chancellor Zimpher said. Since college will cost less for three-year degree students, their potential student loan debt will likewise decrease.
The program is slated to be adopted on every SUNY campus by next year.
Experience for career
All SUNY students, including those enrolled online, will have the opportunity for real-world work experience and to have that learning experience noted on their diplomas.
The new SUNY Plus designation includes participating in a co-op experience, volunteering regularly at a local non-profit, or working with a professor to start a new business. These "out-of-the-classroom" experiences will be recorded on an extracurricular transcript and designated on a student's diploma. The SUNY Plus program is being developed this year.
"The Board is proud to stand behind the aggressive vision and strategic goals that Chancellor Zimpher has outlined,” said SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall. “We have every confidence that the great State University of New York is an impeccable model for higher education worldwide..." College prep helps students decide which programs can best help them achieve their college dreams.