What If College Lasted Three Years Instead of Four?

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As anyone who has paid (or anticipated paying) college tuition bills knows, the cost of a college education has been skyrocketing over recent decades. (The good news? Many families don’t have to pay full price–but that’s another story.) And one Johns Hopkins prof has an intriguing solution to reduce college costs by a quarter percent: a three year degree.

Paul Weinstein, who directs Hopkins’ graduate program in public management, found that a three-year degree at a public, in-state school carried an average tuition of $26,679, 25 percent less than a four-year equivalent. Shorter, less-expensive degrees would also mean lower school loan payments, and (potentially) higher class sizes. Several universities, including Wesleyan, Purdue, and Bates, already offer three-year programs.

“The three-year degree is the only higher education reform plan that would cut the cost of a college degree while ensuring our higher education system remains the best in the world,” Weinstein told the Hopkins Hub. “Students at public institutions would save on average almost $9,000 over the course of their studies while students at private schools could save as much as $30,000.”

Sure, it’s a decent idea, and one that is growing increasingly popular in Europe. But since it’s administrative and faculty costs (not to mention the insistence on building fancy swim complexes) that is driving tuition costs up, is it really fair to put the burden on lowering them back onto students?

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  1. How is this putting the burden on the back of students. Faculty would teach extra without more pay so kids could finish in three years and students and their families are the ones demanding fancy swim complexes and rock climbing walls.

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