Acting University of the Southwest Provost Ryan Tipton said Tuesday that there is “some really cool stuff going on at the university.” His description of some of the “cool stuff” indicates just how much the university is dedicated to being a living example of its “servant leadership” credo.
“We have lots of global presence,” Tipton said. “We have students on campus from all over the world and we have online students from all over the world. What we want to do now is give back to the community where we are. To do that, we’re going to begin this fall to offer tuition grants to residents of Lea County and contiguous counties who have already earned their associate degree at a junior college.”
Without the grant, tuition at USW costs $8,000 per semester. The discount program offered by the university to local students who have already earned an associate degree at a junior college will be $3,000-$4,000 per semester.
Moreover, for students who have scholarships from local organizations, the university will match those scholarships dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $6,000.
“We want to have a program that allows local people to get their baccalaureate degrees locally,” Tipton said. “Having a well-educated citizenry will help us keep our students at home, help them start businesses and help us diversify the economy so we can get away from these boom-bust cycles.”
Tipton said the tuition costs at USW include everything except housing.
“When you pay your tuition, you get a laptop computer and all our textbooks are online. You get all your materials so you are ready to start class from the very first day without a visit to a bookstore that might cost you $3,000 to $4,000 on top of your tuition,” Tipton said.
Students working on a bachelor’s degree have the choice of face-to-face classes or online classes or a combination of the two. Students working on master’s degrees do all their work online.
“Our average graduate student is about 36 years old and has a family and a job. It’s better for them to go home after work and take care of their families while they study,” Tipton said. “All over the country, on-campus enrollment for graduate courses has plummeted now that online classes are available. That’s just the way it is.”
One of the first students who will benefit from the tuition discount is Stephanie Varela, who graduated from Hobbs High School in 2018.
She attended the program called “early college” and earned an associate degree from New Mexico Junior College at the same time she earned her high school diploma. She will enter USW next fall as a junior.
Varela, who is married, plans to major in elementary education.
“I wanted to come to USW because they have a good teaching program. And it’s very convenient to be in school here in Hobbs,” Varela said. “And having the tuition discount program is a big help.”
In the meantime, USW is working with Lea County school districts in what is known as a “grow your own teacher” program.
Under the terms of that program, each school district may assist employees working as teacher assistants with reduced tuition payments at the university.
Tipton said that students who are in that program take classes that are eight weeks on duration, but may only take one of those classes during each eight week term. On average, a student who satisfactorily completes each eight week class earns three credit hours toward the 120 hours required to earn a bachelor’s degree. The classes are offered year-round. Students working toward a master’s degree must earn 30-36 hours for the degree.
All master’s courses are offered only online.
The university also began offering a doctoral program in business administration last year and is planning to offer a doctorate in education at some time in the near future.
Tipton said the university is excited about its new programs and positive prospect for the future.