Boston Globe Editorial Touts SNHU Advantage Program

Monday, February 09, 2009
The Boston Globe

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Cut-rate campus
Globe Editorial

Southern New Hampshire University's no-frills $10,000-a-year tuition for a satellite campus in Salem, N.H., is a revelation for recessionary times. The college tuition race is bankrupting too many families in the pursuit of the "best" college experience. As Southern New Hampshire president Paul LeBlanc told the Globe last week, "I'm not sure that improves education. It just drives the price up."

The no-frills tuition compares favorably with the $35,000 residential package at the main Manchester campus. Commuting is common for American college students. Although 81 percent of first-year students in the National Survey of Student Engagement live on campus, by senior year only 14 percent live in dorms and 85 percent live within walking or driving distance.

Southern New Hampshire spokesman Gregg Mazzola said no-frills students have full access to the university's libraries and research facilities. They can pay a student fee to participate in activities on the main campus. Commuting students may miss out on the extra-curricular enrichments and peer socialization (not always the most healthful) of campus living. But as Robert Gonyea, associate director of the student engagement survey, notes, the difference in "practical competence" between residential and commuting students is "trivial."
For commuters, he said, "the classroom is the center of their engagement at the university."

With college costs no trivial matter, Southern New Hampshire offers a welcome shot of sanity. No-frills tuition is a reminder that it matters less where a student attends school than whether he or she is centered, engaged, and trained to deliver the practical competence America needs now. 

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