Ray Martinez: The trend that we certainly want to see in higher education is the growth of options that will allow particularly non-traditional students in that category between 25 and 64 who are looking to go back to college and complete a degree to advance their careers further. That is a trend that we’ve probably not seen prominently enough but it’s one that I’d certainly want to see more prominently.
We have traditional universities and online universities that are emulating competency-based education which we’ve been doing for 16 years now. That’s a trend that we’ll begin to see more prominently because the vast majority of our students now in post-secondary degree programs is your non-traditional students. It is not your 18 to 22 year old. It is, increasingly, your adult learner that falls into that age category.
Sramana Mitra: This brings us to the question of price of higher education. How do you price? What does it cost to be a student in your program? How do you feel about the whole rising cost of higher education?
Ray Martinez: We should all be concerned about the rising cost whether we are an administrator of a traditional university, or a financial aid office, or parent of a 10 and 13 year old. I will expect that my kids will soon be faced with a price tag of a billion for tuition from a university. It’s a major concern. For WGU, we’re very proud to say that we are an affordable option. We’re a non-profit university. We don’t have shareholders to feed. Most of our undergraduate programs are priced around $6,000 per year and our terms are six months.
Because we are a competency-based education, we don’t follow a traditional semester format. If somebody decides today that they want to be a student at WGU Texas, they would go through an enrollment and admissions process for a few weeks. Once they gain acceptance into WGU Texas, they can begin their program at the start of the following month. We would then go on a six-month term. The student would typically pay just under $3,000 per term or around $6,000 per year.
In that six month term or full year, that student can consume as many courses as he/she wants to. They can move at their own pace. It’s very typical of our students to do much more than your typical 12 to 15 semester credit hours at a university. Many of our students go beyond that in a typical six-month term because they can self-pace and move quickly through things they already know and spend more time on those courses that they’re not as familiar with. We think we’re a very affordable option. We have not raised tuition for six years now. We are a regionally accredited non-profit university, but we think we are a very affordable option for adult learners who are working full-time and trying to advance their careers.
Sramana Mitra: It’s interesting what you’re doing. Thank you for your time.