Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
BY JAMIE LISANTI
What would you do with $17,000?
It is a typical Wednesday afternoon during the lunch hour, and students are passing time on their phones waiting in the sandwich line in Jazzman’s. The phones buzz and beep – Saint Peter’s has sent out another email – but this one is not about a meeting or upcoming event, it is a message informing students that their tuition will now be at the typical New Jersey state tuition rate, or about $17,000 less a year.
Unfortunately for current SPC students, this is situation is not real; however, for Hudson County Community College students who have earned their Associate’s degree, this message is a reality because now it is now possible to earn a bachelor’s in two years at SPC for the New Jersey State tuition rate.
Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph. D., president of Saint Peter’s, and Glen Gabert, Ph. D., president of HCCC, signed an agreement that will permit HCCC graduates to transfer their credits to SPC and complete two years, or 60 credits, at the college at a reduced rate.
Provost and vice president of academic affairs at Saint Peter’s, Marylou Yam, Ph. D., said that the HCCC graduates would still have to go through the application process and would not be eligible for any additional aid from the college, such as merit scholarships.
“We are not using any of our existing college scholarship money to do this, so that is a really good thing,” said Yam, “It is not impacting any of our budgets.”
The HCCC reduced rate would also not include housing costs and other student fees the college charges. Yam said the price could possibly be consistent with Rutgers University, who’s in-state tuition was $12,754 compared to $29,800 at Saint Peter’s, according to the U.S. News Education statistics from the 2011-12 academic year.
After hearing the details of the agreement, many current Saint Peter’s students were outraged and frustrated by the agreement because they felt it was unfair to those who have to pay full-tuition rates.
“Although scholarships and financial aid helped me out a bit, I’m still sitting on a pretty high amount of debt in student loans that HCCC students will never see,” said Michael Murcia, a senior at Saint Peter’s. “And the fact that two years at a community college will transfer and count as two years at SPC is an insult to our education, in my opinion. “
Although the administration is aware of the students’ reactions to the agreement, they assure that it will positively benefit the faculty, students, and Saint Peter’s community. HCCC and SPC have always had a strong relationship in the past, and the administration maintains that the agreement will strengthen this bond, attract transfer students, and contribute to the mission of the college.
“The vast majority of community college students, when they go on for their bachelor’s degree, they don’t come to a private institution,” said Yam, “So this will increase enrollment, which will increase revenue, which can benefit the students.”
Yam explained that about 97% of SPC students are receiving some form of institutional aid, so this agreement and the students it will bring in will be consistent with the current student population. The HCCC transfer students will be required to fulfill all core and major requirements, and if their time to complete a bachelor’s degree at Saint Peter’s exceeds two years or 60 credits, the remaining classes must be paid out of pocket.
Another SPC senior, Samantha Lockhart, has mixed feelings about the recent agreement, but hopes for the best for her future alma mater.
“I do think that it is unfair that students who chose to go to a two-year college can transfer and go to Saint Peter’s at a lower price,” said Lockhart, “But I understand that it is a marketing strategy, that in combination with the new student center, will benefit SPC in the long run.”