While the Higher Education Policy Commission is increasing tuition for in-state students at state schools around West Virginia by as much as 10 percent, officials at Salem International University, a private institution, announced a new college affordability initiative this week at their campus in Harrison County. The initiative would effectively cut students’ tuition by half or more.
After a year as the president of Salem International University, Dan Nelant is rolling out an affordability initiative. It comes, he says, after conducting market analysis that revealed why West Virginian kids aren’t going to college:
“Mainly two reasons,” Nelant said, “debt burden that the family can take on, and the second thing is most of them are first generation kids going to college.”
The Salem College Affordability Initiative aims to allow students – especially low income West Virginians – to complete degrees with no or manageable debt by helping them in several ways:
- scholarships that reduce tuition by half,
- assistance in applying for federal grants,
- flexible course scheduling and transfer credits,
- combining distance and campus learning, and by
- reducing tuition in certain in-demand programs like education and nursing.
Regular tuition at the university is about $70,000, but Nelant says his program will allow low-income, high-need West Virginians to get a four-year degree for around $2,000.
Nelant says investors are behind the initiative and that Salem has the financial wherewithal to support the program. He hopes to see increases in first generation college students this fall.