MassBay Community College in Wellesley and Framingham State University have launched a new program that offers students the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree in four years for $28,000 — an amount that is less than one year at many private institutions.
With the average tuition for four years of private higher education around $120,000, and the cost of in-state tuition and fees for public colleges and universities at about $36,400, students who take advantage of the new partnership would see significant cost savings.
"It's crucial for those of us in higher education to expand access to a college education by finding creative ways to lower costs and by reaching out to non-traditional students and underserved populations," Framingham State President F. Javier Cevallos said in a statement Monday. "I believe our partnership has the potential to do both."
Starting in the fall of 2016, students who enroll in the new FSU@MassBay will begin their studies at MassBay to complete the associate's degree programs for Liberal Arts or Business Administration. Students will be eligible for guaranteed acceptance and seamless transfer to Framingham State University to complete their bachelor's degree programs in Liberal Studies or Management as long as they meet the minimum grade point average of 2.0.
"This is a major partnership where the two public higher education institutions in MetroWest are collaborating to contain the rising costs of higher education," said Yves Salomon-Fernandez, interim president of MassBay, in a statement.
All classes will take place at MassBay's Wellesley campus, but the students completing upper-level courses for a bachelor's degree through this partnership will be considered FSU students with access to the university's support services, facilities, and other resources.
MassBay alumni who have already earned an associate's degree in Liberal Arts or Business Administration are also eligible to complete their bachelor's degree requirements through this program and earn a degree from Framingham State.
Students have the flexibility to finish the degree at their own pace, but would save the most if they complete the degree in four years. The total cost of tuition and fees over four years for both programs at MassBay and FSU is projected to be about $28,000, based on current costs.
Last year, Fitchburg State University, Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Quinsigamond Community College in Worcesater, and Worcester State University announced a new collaboration that guarantees qualifying students their associate's and bachelor's degrees in high demand programs for $30,000 in four years.
Unlike the program at Worcester and Fitchburg State, all classes through FSU@MassBay will be done at the community college, said Daniel Magazu, a spokesman for FSU. Magazu said it will make the process more seamless for students. He also said the MassBay campus in Wellesley is closer for those students coming from Boston.
While the program offers a significant financial savings, Magazu acknowledged that it's not for everyone.
"Some students want to experience living on campus, and that's still our main focus,'' he said. "But for students who just want to get a high-quality degree at an affordable cost, this is a great alternative.''
Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at email@example.com.