National University System sal
The National University System seal. Courtesy National University

National University announced Wednesday its Board of Trustees approved a plan to reduce the cost of attendance through tuition cuts of up to 25% for full-time students and adding scholarships that will make enrollment nearly free for Pell Grant eligible students.

The actions — made possible through a 2019 gift to the La Jolla university’s reserve fund by philanthropist T. Denny Sanford — “reflect a heightened sense of urgency to reduce costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting, unprecedented U.S job losses,” according to a university statement.

The university, which was founded in 1971, said it has committed to:

— doubling the award amount of existing scholarships, enabling Pell- eligible students to earn a bachelor’s degree for close to no cost;

— creating “opportunity scholarships,” valued at $30 million total, for displaced workers and working adults in need of financial support to restart their college studies;

— launching a “fast-track” scholarship which rewards students with a fourth tuition-free course for every three courses completed within a six- month period; and

— investing in additional student support services designed to remove barriers to degree completion.

“In a moment of enormous economic hardship, open-access universities have a responsibility to make dramatic changes to not only reduce costs, but to evolve their academic offerings to ensure tight coupling with the demands of the labor market,” said David Andrews, president of National University. “Our trustees have challenged us to take immediate next steps to ensure that we substantially reduce tuition while simultaneously improving student experience and outcomes.”

Michael R. Cunningham, chancellor of the National University System, a network of nonprofit education institutions and initiatives that includes National University, said: “Working adults who are first to lose their jobs in a recession are often the last hired in an upswing.

“As we mark fifty years of serving working adults and veterans and enter this new era for higher education and our economy, this new tuition strategy will enable us to significantly expand access to working adults in need of opportunity today.”

–City News Service