York College joins team aiming to lower college costs

York College is part of a new consortium of 19 colleges and universities that aims to come up with cost-saving ideas to lower the expense of higher education.

The Lower Cost Models for Independent Colleges Consortium, formed in January, features members from small, independent colleges with a high percentage of students with a greater financial need, said a consultant helping the new consortium, Janet Holmgren, the former president of California’s Mills College.

“The consortium works together to share curricular ideas among their faculty and their administration, and share ideas for lowering the cost of attendance overall,” Holmgren said in an interview Wednesday.

The LCMC is studying possibly jointly developing new degrees for the 19 institutions, including a specialization in certified financial planning degree and others in the computer science and information technology area, she said.

“Both are areas where it’s quite expensive for individual colleges to launch full programs on their own,” Holmgren explained.

The institutions pay modest dues to be a part of the consortium, and it receives funding from the the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and from the Davis Educational Foundation in New England, Holmgren said. The Davis Educational Foundation was established by Stanton and Elizabeth Davis after Stanton Davis’s retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc., consortium officials said.

Holmgren declined to give the funding amounts or the consortium’s operating budget.

Members of the consortium are: Adrian College, Alvernia University, Bay Path University, Bridgewater College, Centre College, College of Mount Saint Vincent, Heidelberg University, Holy Names University, Houghton College, Lasell College, Lesley University, Mary Baldwin University, Mount Ida College, Norwich University, Regis College, Roger Williams University, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, University of La Verne, and York College.

The group holds its meetings at Lasell College in Newton, Mass., and those sessions, both of the full consortium and smaller committees, include the presidents, senior staff and selected faculty from the 19 institutions, Holmgren said.

At a time when college affordability is a major topic to parents and students, the LCMC is among one of two high-profile recent efforts chipping away at the cost of a higher education.

The American Talent Initiative, formed in December, aims to increase access to selective private institutions by high-achieving students from families with low to moderate incomes. Members of the national ATI include Dickinson, Elizabethtown, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg and Lebanon Valley colleges.

With LCMC, “It’s very exciting to see that we’re broadening the opportunities,” Holmgren said.

She was president of Mills College for 20 years, she added, “so I do understand the challenges to the small-college environment and keeping the academic programs up to date and lowering the cost.” 

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