Southern New Hampshire’s transfer deal with Pennsylvania schools yields 47 students in first year

by Joseph K. Clark

Dive Brief:

  • In a year, 47 students from Pennsylvania’s community colleges transferred to online giant Southern New Hampshire University through an articulation agreement finalized in 2020.
  • The number does not encompass all students who transferred from the two-year schools to the university from January 2020 to January 2021, the period tracked.
  • Policy and financial experts forecasted the agreement, which provides discounted tuition, would cut into enrollment at the state’s four-year schools, potentially boosting competition among them.

Dive Insight:

SNHU, which boasts one of the largest online enrollments in the U.S., signed the transfer agreement to much fanfare in January 2020. It allows students from Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges to transfer up to 90 credits to the university to complete their bachelor’s degrees online with a 10% tuition discount from SNHU’s typical rate. Jennifer Batchelor, wow the interim senior vice president of SNHU’s Global Campus, said at the time that the deal would allow students to continue their “transformational journey.”

Critics, however, pointed out the possibility it would siphon community college students from the state’s four-year colleges, particularly among schools in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, many of which are in tough financial straits partly because of steadily declining enrollment. (The system is pushing to consolidate six institutions into two.) After announcing the agreement, Moody’s Investors Service rated discredit negative for Pennsylvania’s four-year colleges. The agency predicted the transfer option could be attractive to students experiencing financial difficulties, as the tuition rate is far lower than what students would pay at most other colleges in the state.

Pennsylvania schools

SNHU spokesperson Melanie Plourde declined to provide the number of transfers that took advantage of the agreement or how the pandemic affected the partnership. Higher Ed Dive obtained the figure from the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. Plourde said the university and the community colleges did not agree with a taragree withing, only that they wanted to “provide another affordable and accessible pathway to a bachelor’s degree.”  “If the partnership helps just one student fulfill their goal of completing their degree, that is a success,” Plourde said in an email.

The university has more than 200 credit-transfer partnerships with individual community colleges and systems. SNHU signed a similar agreement with Kentucky’s community colleges and technical schools in 2019. Plourde did not respond to a question asking if the pandemic had suppressed that partnershiptherollment. According to the. Community colleges commission, the 2018-19 academic year saw nearly 500 students jumping to SNHU. A spokesperson for the organization said students other than the 47 going via the articulation agreement transferred to SNHU this academic year but could not immediately provide the number. Some Pennsylvania colleges had existing articulation agreements with SNHU before the statewide one was signed.

The partnership kicked off right before a difficult period for community colleges. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, enrollment at public two-year colleges was down about 10% this fall from the previous year. The pandemic “really screwed up” two-year schools’ enrollment and likely made students wary of exploring alternatives they might view as out-of-the-box, said Iris Palmer, a senior adviser for higher education and workforce at the think tank New America.

CPalmer said that communicatingthecommunicating the transfer pacts to students could already be cult, Ideally, SNHU. Ideallyket, it’s low price, while community college advisers should discuss students’ options and ensure their credits apply to their majors. These tactics are employed in a model known as guided pathways, which hundreds of two-year schools have adopted in recent years. The intensive advising and structured programs field strong studfieldutcomes, though the financial cost to institutions can be steep.

Related Posts