The Southeastern Promise to implement rate freeze for incoming freshmen
The university recently announced a new program that is intended to provide financial certainty for incoming students and their families.
On Tuesday, Apr. 18 at 1:00 p.m., President John L. Crain announced the university’s decision to introduce the Southeastern Promise, a plan intended to benefit incoming freshman in fall 2017 by using a rate freeze to increase the success of students.
“For 90 years now, Southeastern has been dedicated to one thing- our students’ success,” Crain said. “Our entire university is focused on serving our students by providing strong academic programs with a personalized, caring culture that lays the groundwork for success.”
According to Crain, the Southeastern Promise is currently the only program of it’s kind in Louisiana that ensures that students will not undergo tuition increases and that classes will be made available to them to assist them in completing a bachelor’s degree in four years.
In order for the plan to be fulfilled, students must complete 120 hours to earn a bachelor’s degree and follow the curriculum for their course of study. Students must complete a minimum of one-quarter of the credits needed for their declared major by the end of each academic year. Completing summer sessions of courses permits students to earn additional credits.
In the case of class scheduling or availability issues, the university will work with students to provide an equivalent class or provide a scholarship in order for students to complete their degree. University academic advisors will work with freshmen to help them select their majors as well as develop a four-year degree plan. Students must declare a major by the start of their sophomore semester.
Sam Domiano, Vice President for Administration and Finance, worked closely with Crain in order to examine how the program would benefit the budget of the university by examining its potential costs.
“My role is really working with Dr. Crain to look at the feasibility of the program and as he kind of referenced, a big part of that was kind of understanding the potential cost, but also the potential impact,” Domiano said. “We just helped to provide him a resource, via data, so he could make an informed decision about the program.”
Domiano explained that because the university’s budget largely relies on student income, student retention was a concern during the planning stages of the Southeastern Promise program.
“As he mentioned, they’re really thinking that the great benefit to the program is really tied to student retention, progression and graduation,” Domiano said. “Given that such a large part of our budget is generated by tuition and fees, if we retain more students, then that will more than offset the potential cost of ensuring them a fixed net tuition rate.”
Erin Fernandez, President of the Student Government Association shared that she believes that the most important benefit for the program will be providing certainty for students.
“We’re just really not certain where things are sometimes, especially when you consider the state’s budget in comparison to the school’s budget,” said Fernandez. “I think it’ll help students and their families kind of plan a little better for how to fund their higher education. Sometimes when there’s increases and fees, you don’t know how to plan for that and so I think this will help ease some of that problem.”
Aside from hopes of increasing student success, The Southeastern Promise was enacted in order to offset previous years of declining state budgets for public universities, increases in tuition and lack of payments of the TOPS scholarship tuition payments.
Crain explained that despite the 138 percent increase in tuition over the span of eight years, the university has found ways to ensure college affordability for students.
“Southeastern has always represented a great value, and we have a long-standing tradition of programs and initiatives that save students money,” said Crain. “Southeastern operates one of the only and now long-running textbook rental programs in the nation, which saves students hundreds of dollars each semester.”
The university plans to offer all of the courses needed in order for students to graduate in a four-year time frame. If tuition increases in that time frame, students involved in the program will not be required to pay tuition or any other mandatory attendance fees that are newly implanted. Fees such as laboratory fees, room and board costs and student self-assessed fees will not be included in the rate freeze that the university is imposing within the program.
These fulfillments by the students are what Crain believes to be essential to the success of the new program.
“Southeastern is committed to creating an educational environment designed to ensure student success and to offer an excellent educational value,” Crain said. “The Southeastern Promise offers students and parents the opportunity to more easily plan an academic pathway at a structured cost.”
Students who have completed orientation will be eligible to sign up for the Southeastern Promise program beginning on Thursday, Apr. 20, 2017.
For more information on the plan, visit southeastern.edu/promise.
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