At a time when most folks are paying more for less, Bluefield College is asking less for more when it comes to its inSPIRE degree completion program.
In a move described as “revolutionary” and “courageous,” Bluefield College reduced its annual tuition and fees for degree completion students by 25 percent.
“Most colleges, private and public, are increasing tuition,” said Dr. Larry Sinsabaugh, associate vice president for BC’s inSPIRE program, “but Bluefield College is taking a courageous step in an act of faith to appeal to the cost conscious learners by reducing tuition.”
In today’s declining economic environment where competition for jobs is stiffer than ever, a college education makes candidates much more marketable to employers. But, gaining access to that higher education is becoming much more difficult in light of the rising cost of living and families’ falling disposable income.
“We want to ease the economic burden of adults who are trying to go back to college to complete their bachelor’s degree,” said Dr. Robert Shippey, vice president for academic affairs. “This reduction in tuition puts us in a position to be a better value for students and helps them get that quality higher education they so deeply desire.”
Tuition for inSPIRE degree completion students at Bluefield College will now run $325 per credit hour, compared to $385 per credit hour this past spring. That’s a 16 percent reduction, but there’s more. In addition to paying less tuition, BC inSPIRE students will receive a free netbook computer and complimentary e-textbooks as part of the tuition package. Cutting those costs, tuition, and other typical fees means BC degree completion students will now pay 25 percent less for their bachelor’s degree.
“We didn’t just cut cost,” said Dr. Dale Henry, whom the college just hired as dean of online programs to transfer all the inSPIRE majors from the classroom to the online environment. “We improved value. Our degree completion programs are now more affordable and have better quality and service that will ensure our students have an excellent experience at Bluefield College.”
Students enrolled in BC’s 36 hour core curriculum before the tuition adjustment paid roughly $15,360 in annual tuition and fees, including books, said Dr. Henry. Now, he added, they’ll pay just $11,600 annually, which includes the netbook computer and e-books.
“Reports show the norm has been to raise tuition over the last two years between five and nine percent,” said Dr. Sinsabaugh, “but Bluefield College clearly stands out in front of the competition by reducing its tuition.”
Ranked among the Top 50 Baccalaureate Colleges in the South in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges,” Bluefield College launched its degree completion program on its campus in southwest Virginia in 1990. Designed to offer the working adult a convenient, flexible, accelerated, non-traditional way to finish their bachelor’s degree, the program included one degree offering at that time in management.
Today, the program, now called inSPIRE, is statewide with added regional hubs in Roanoke, Richmond, and Fredericksburg (Northern), Virginia. Nearly 4,000 students have graduated from inSPIRE, which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the program now features a complete online format for its four baccalaureate degree offerings in management and leadership, public safety, human services, and nursing.
“Bluefield College’s vision is to be a nationally recognized Christ-centered liberal arts college, preparing innovative learners and transformational leaders to impact the world,” said Dr. Shippey. “Innovation and entrepreneurial vision are the beacons that will guide this college onward toward excellence and relevance in the 21st Century.”
In addition to being available online for added convenience, BC’s four inSPIRE majors feature continuous scheduling every two months, six times a year. Classes include guided reading assignments, video lectures, interaction with faculty and fellow students, research, reflective engagement, and systematic review.
“The college is providing an ever-present learning environment through asynchronous online learning,” added Dr. Shippey. “Students can learn at their own pace in a place and at a time that is best for them. It’s all about convenience and quality. This is not a diploma mill, but rather the opportunity for a first-rate online education taught by Christ-centered faculty at a very affordable price.”