The Hechinger Report
April 15, 2022
WASHINGTON — Like many high school seniors, Grant Austin Robert Simms was bombarded with marketing materials from colleges that showed euphoric students enjoying athletics, extracurricular clubs and the excitement of living on campus.
What he really wanted to know was how long his degree would take and how much it would cost.
“What’s missing when people are talking to high school students about college is the reality of it — the financial aspect,” Simms said. “Nobody talks about that.”
Simms was speaking in the light-filled but otherwise mostly empty classroom-sized space in a co-working building in downtown D.C. that in August will welcome an expected 50 to 70 members of the inaugural class of NewU, where he ultimately decided to enroll.
A rare brand-new nonprofit university, NewU has a comparatively low $16,500-a-year price that’s locked in for a student’s entire education and majors with interchangeable requirements so students don’t fall behind if they switch.
But the feature that appears to be really winning over applicants is that NewU will offer bachelor’s degrees in three years instead of the customary four.
“We didn’t think the three-year bachelor’s degree was going to be the biggest draw,” said Stratsi Kulinski, president of the startup college. “But it has been, hands-down. Consumers are definitely ready for something different.”