Pa. Drexel University will offer 50% tuition break for community college transfers as higher education struggles with enrollment drop

Like many schools, Drexel University has offered financial aid to students for many years, including those transferring from community colleges.

But many students didn’t know how much — or how to get it. Now the private university has sweetened the pot by announcing a guarantee that those who meet admission requirements and earn an associate’s degree from a Pennsylvania or New Jersey community college will receive a 50% discount from tuition, which is currently $ 56,595.

“If a student is attending a community college and aspiring to further their education at a four-year university, they have a better understanding of what it will cost to Drexel ahead of time because we have this It’s out in the open for them. It’s providing transparency of net worth, said Evelyn Thimba, senior vice president of enrollment management.

The move comes as colleges across the country are struggling with declining enrollments, partly driven by the pandemic, but also with a lower number of high school graduates. Many are increasingly seeing transfer students as an important pool to tap, and a few others, including Rosemont College, a branch or Commonwealth Campus of Pennsylvania State University, State Universities of Pennsylvania, Bucknell, La Salle, and Temple , Community colleges also offer scholarships for transfers.

Rosemont, where tuition runs about $20,000, last year began offering 50% discounts to community college graduates from Bucks, Montgomery and Delaware County community colleges, as well as the Community College of Philadelphia. This year, the program is expanding to all community colleges, said Micah Nash, provost and senior vice president of academic and student affairs. Nash said the move resulted in the transfer of a dozen additional students last year, a significant bump for a college of 750.

Drexel’s sticker price—about $76,000 annually for tuition, fees, and room and board—is one of the highest in the region, although the school states that most students receive financial aid.

In the past, Drexel transfer students have received an average of $23,000 in institutional aid, or about 40% of tuition. Assistance is based on educational qualification and family income. The average aid for transfer students only from community colleges — which are often from low-income families — is slightly higher, she said. So the new tuition break, called Drexel’s Promise, won’t be much different for many of them, but it will be of greater benefit to students who may not have been eligible for that much aid in the past, she said.

The new program takes effect for students entering 2023, meaning that even with the tuition break, transfers will still have a tuition bill of $28,297. Some of that can be offset by federal or state aid or participation in Drexel’s co-op program, in which students get paid, six months of work experience as part of their education. The median salary for full-time cooperative jobs is around $19,000.

Drexel receives approximately 650 transfer students each year. Less than half come from community colleges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Thimba said.

“We really wanted to focus on our backyard first and foremost,” Thimba said.

Drexel’s new initiative was welcomed by the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges and its council of presidents.

“Drexel is a model for making higher education more affordable in Pennsylvania and represents one of many community colleges partnering with private institutions here in the Commonwealth,” said Commission President and CEO Elizabeth A. Bolden in a statement. ” “We are delighted to see Drexel working to support these well-prepared community college graduates.”

The Community College of Philadelphia also praised the effort, noting that Drexel is one of its main partnership schools.

Shannon McLaughlin Rooney said, “As a minority-serving institution that values ​​education accessible and affordable, and as one that already offers many transfer opportunities to four-year schools, including Drexel We are pleasantly surprised to see this arrangement moving forward.” Vice President for Enrollment Management and Strategic Communications. “This tuition break will assist many of our transfer students in a variety of programs, providing a direct path to a bachelor’s degree at a low cost.”

Penn State’s Commonwealth campuses will begin offering annual scholarships of $6,500 per year in 2020 to transfer students from neighboring states, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, and Virginia and Washington, D.C. For out-of-state tuition as well. Those campuses run between about $22,000 and $26,000, so scholarships represent about one-quarter of the cost.

Spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the university’s Commonwealth campuses plan to launch a new scholarship program for community colleges in Pennsylvania next week, offering up to $7,000 over two years. Annual in-state tuition on those campuses runs between about $13,500 and about $15,400.

Temple offered more than 1,200 additional scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 to incoming transfer students this year. They went to community college transfer students with at least 3.0 GPAs, said Sean Abbott, vice provost of admissions, financial aid and enrollment management. Annual tuition and fees at Temple for an in-state student range from approximately $17,000 to $24,000 depending on a student’s academic program.

The State University of Pennsylvania, which collects annual tuition at $7,716 for four years, also offers financial aid for transfers, said Kevin Hensil, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

“Many of our universities have expanded or created scholarship funds or waivers for transfer students by using an additional $75 million in state funding and $125 million in one-time funding in the new state budget,” he said.

Thimba said that at Drexel, the new effort will help the school retain students who are relocating.

“We know that funding has always been a deterrent for students, especially those coming from community colleges,” she said.

That’s why Drexel requires students to have completed community college to be eligible, Thimba said. This means they will have a higher chance of finishing at Drexel, where they will have to maintain a 2.0 GPA to take a tuition break, she said.

The program is also an opportunity for Drexel to increase its enrollment from those schools, she said, although enrollment at Pennsylvania community colleges has also fallen, nearly 20% since the pandemic, falling from 111,616 in 2019 to 89,375 in 2021. commission. He said Drexel is expecting a new class of about 2,900 this year, up about 5% from last year. Overall enrollment estimates were not there to account for the decline in Thimba.

“We certainly see this as a possible way to attract students,” she said. “We’re also really looking at this as a way to improve access to students who otherwise wouldn’t think of Drexel.”

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