By Briana Vannozzi
It’s the four-letter f-word around college tuition that has students abuzz, free.
“Amazing, please, where do I sign up?” said Alysha Barkers a junior at Rowan University.
Rowan University will offer incoming freshman the chance to get a degree in 3 years, by attending full-time during the summer where tuition, fees and housing will all be free.
“That’s an awesome idea, a way to get done with college quicker, any way to do that, I’d do it,” said Mike Raspa, another Rowan student.
Students will save about twenty-three thousand dollars on their degree if they opt in.
Ali Houshmand, Rowan University President, said “we give them the option, we say, here if you want to finish earlier, finish earlier and save a lot of money for yourself and your parents and a year of your life. And go into the market and start earning money.”
Rowan University’s President says he’s trying to challenge the status quo. Find non-traditional ways to deliver more affordable, quality education to his students. “Basically what we are doing is trying to fulfill our responsibilities’ to the taxpayers who really built this institution and giving it back to them.”
The idea came after Houshmand looked around at the nearly vacant 80-90 buildings on campus during the summer. “Our public safety is working, our facilities is still keeping the campus beautiful, the dorms are available. So why on earth are we paying for all this in capacity and keeping it empty?” he continued.
Student debt is skyrocketing. The average college kid comes out with about twenty-eight thousand dollars to pay back, according to national figures. South Jersey public colleges like Stockton and Rutgers Camden have also recently announced tuition help.
Alysha Barkers continued “its hard financial aid is not as easy and accessible as everyone thinks it is. It’s hard to find out how to get everything and who can help you.”
Sebastian Hull, a sophomore at Rowan University said “if they cut down on it in general, it doesn’t have to be free but if my tuition was just cut in half id be happy, a happy man.”
Houshmand expects to attract anywhere from one to five hundred students. They’ll be expected to meet the same requirements to earn a degree. “We are looking for people who are disciplined enough and are hard working enough to benefit from this opportunity.” There’s also promise to offer an economic boost to the local community, “while we are moving up in our rank and prestige our community should be doing the same.”
The university is still hashing out the admissions process and which majors will be offered. The president says the trick is getting these courses in the right sequence with the regular academic sessions. He expects those details to be ready by December first.