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FROM THE PRESIDENT

March 12, 2012

Lately, much as been written about the escalating cost associated with attending college. In addition, concerns regarding increased debt and the ability of college graduates to find employment are on the rise.

Regardless of how we might respond to these concerns, all of us at Shepherd believe in the transformative power of higher education and want the citizens of West Virginia and our surrounding region to experience this power. I believe that at Shepherd University we have, together, created a learning environment that is both high quality and affordable.

The facts support this belief. I am including the latest data for Shepherd students so you can see how we compare nationally.

Tuition costs
Shepherd University is affordable. Our tuition and fees are among the lowest in the nation, and we raise tuition and fees only as it is necessary to deliver a high quality educational program.
* Shepherd's annual tuition and fees this year for in-state students are $5,554. This is well below the national average of $8,244 charged by other public universities.
* Over the past two-year period, Shepherd's average annual in-state increase was 3 percent; this represents an increase of $320. Tuition and fees were not increased for fall 2010. Shepherd's two-year increase compares to an average increase nationally of $631 or 8.3 percent for public universities during the same time period. Shepherd's increases are also in line with national inflation figures, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increasing last year by 3.4 percent.

Student debt
Forty percent of Shepherd students do not borrow to attend Shepherd. The average debt carried by 2010 graduates was $20,429, much less than the national average of $25,250.
* Only about 60 percent of our degree-seeking students borrow and those that do demonstrate a good ability to pay back their student loans. In 2009, only 4.3 percent of Shepherd students defaulted on their loans compared to 8.8 percent nationally.
* The average federal debt carried by our students actually decreased last year from $19,600 for 2010 graduates to $18,000 for the class of 2011.

Controlling costs
The single most important factor in controlling college costs comes from reducing time to graduation.
* Each year that a student spends earning a degree can add $15,000 or more to the cost of his or her college education. This is especially true of residential students.
* Shepherd's steady increase in the number of full-time faculty can further enhance student progress toward earning degrees through stronger support and advising.
* Shepherd is the first university in West Virginia to adopt a 120-credit hour standard for all undergraduate degrees. Students who complete 15 credits of the prescribed curriculum per semester will graduate in four years with the same high standards for which Shepherd has become known.

Employment outcomes
Shepherd students find employment soon after graduation.
* In a recent survey of May 2011 graduates, 80 percent indicated that they would be employed in their discipline or furthering their education following graduation.
* Thirty-three percent of May 2011 graduates reported making annual salaries of more than $30,000.
* The Career Services and Cooperative Education offices were realigned with Academic Affairs to provide better linkages with academic programs.
* While Shepherd students have multiple opportunities for career planning, we are developing a career advantage program that will provide students with career touchstones throughout their degree program.
The program will include career exploration, job shadowing, service learning, and either an internship or cooperative education experience where appropriate.

 

Shepherd University | Office of the President | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, West Virginia | 25443-5000
304-876-5107 | 800-344-5231