Pioneering California institution embarks on multi-year effort to boost access and affordability with tuition reduction, free college for most Pell-eligible students
LA JOLLA, CALIF. (AUGUST 12, 2020) — National University, a nonprofit university with a 50-year history of serving working adult learners, educators and veterans, today announced its Board of Trustees has approved a new tuition plan that would significantly reduce the cost of attendance, including scholarships that would make enrollment near free for Pell-eligible students.
“In a moment of enormous economic hardship, open-access universities have a responsibility to make dramatic changes to not only reduce costs, but to evolve their academic offerings to ensure tight coupling with the demands of the labor market,” said Dr. David Andrews, president of National University. “Our trustees have challenged us to take immediate next steps to ensure that we substantially reduce tuition while simultaneously improving student experience and outcomes.”
At a time when many colleges and universities are struggling to keep tuition flat, the university is among a small number of U.S. institutions to announce a major tuition reduction in 2020. The action, which will take effect immediately, is part of a multi-year effort by National University to continually increase access and improve the return on investment of its academic programs. Specifically, the institution has committed to:
- Doubling the award amount of existing scholarships, enabling Pell-eligible students to earn a bachelor’s degree for close to no cost;
- Creating Opportunity Scholarships, valued at $30 million total, for displaced workers and working adults in need of financial support to re-engage with their college studies;
- Launching the Fast Track Scholarship, which reward students with a fourth tuition-free course for every three courses completed within a six-month period;
- Investing in additional on-demand support services, including holistic student support and other services designed to remove barriers to degree completion.
The actions announced today — made possible through a 2019 gift to the university reserve fund by philanthropist T. Denny Sanford — reflect a heightened sense of urgency to reduce costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting, unprecedented U.S job losses. The tuition plan will expand access to National’s signature “Precision Education” framework, which combines personalized instruction, holistic student support and competency-based credentialing, to ensure each student has a personalized plan aligned to their professional goals, credentials and skills.
“This is about improving the return on investment for students — by increasing value and simultaneously reducing costs to students,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, chancellor of the National University System, a network of nonprofit education institutions and initiatives, which includes National University, and serves Pre-K through doctoral students. “Working adults who are first to lose their jobs in a recession are often the last hired in an upswing. As we mark 50 years of serving working adults and veterans and enter this new era for higher education and our economy, this new tuition strategy will enable us to significantly expand access to working adults in need of opportunity today.”
“Colleges are going to have to think differently if we are going to make good on our promise of economic mobility in the face of mass economic trauma,” said Dr. E. Lee Rice, a National University trustee and CEO and Medical Director of the Lifewellness Institute. “During the great recession, we saw profound job losses for workers without degrees, but only 3.2 million of the jobs added during the recovery went to that population. Reducing costs and expanding access can help to change the trajectory for displaced workers.”
About National University
Founded in 1971, National University is among the largest, private, nonprofit universities in California. With more than 180,000 alumni, National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students through its three Colleges: Sanford College of Education, College of Professional Studies, and College of Letters and Sciences. Programs are offered both online and at campuses throughout California and Nevada. National University is headquartered in La Jolla, California.