McNally Smith music college freezes tuition

Got an announcement from McNally Smith College of Music that it's freezing tuition for full-time, consistently enrolled students until they finish their degree.

The press release is below, and you can read more on it in the president's blog, “Good Education in a Bad Economy."

Early this year, MPR's Tim Post reported on how the Minneapolis College of Art and Design was freezing tuition for a year, and that the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design had taken a similar measure to boost declining enrollment.

I suspect McNally Smith has a similar reason, but I've got a call into the school.

Update: I was able to speak with McNally Smith President Harry Chalmiers. He said enrollment has indeed taken a dip. When he signed on about three years ago, it was about 550 students. It got as high as 680, but has slipped this fall to about 650 -- about 4 percent.

He emphasized, however, what I've put in bold in the news release.

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Here's an edited form of what I got:

Citing the ongoing recessionary economy and its difficult effect on families and students, President Harry Chalmiers said on his newest blog posting — “Good Education in a Bad Economy“ — that the school would freeze tuition for students who choose to attend consecutive semesters (fall, spring, and summer) until the completion of their degree program. The option is also available to new students upon entering the college.

“An economic downturn, however drastic, is temporary. Choosing a life in music provides challenge, opportunity, and deep satisfaction based on doing what you love to do,” Chalmiers wrote. “Music education is broad and builds skills that are applicable to any field of work….Because the country is in a difficult place does not mean that you should give up your dreams in exchange for a "safer" career path. Unfortunately, many people are unemployed today who thought they were in "safe" careers."

The president also said the move tells prospective students thinking about an education and career in music not to settle for second-best by doing something they weren’t passionate about by going to another school to study subjects  besides music simply because of economic conditions.

McNally Smith tuition -- averaging roughly $11,000 per semester -- is still "substantially below that of other leading music schools like Berklee College of Music."

A subsequent letter to students from McNally Smith’s Dean of Academic Affairs, Cliff Wittstruck, underscored the advantages of the tuition freeze:

  • As you can imagine, this policy change has the possibility of saving you thousands of dollars.

  • If you are a first year student and follow this plan, you have the opportunity to complete your four-year bachelor degree in two years and eight months. So, in addition to the tuition savings, you will also save on housing, food and travel expenses.

  1. Attending the McNally Smith College of Music year-round allows you the ability to complete your education sooner and get on with your career as a performer, composer, music business professional, producer, recording engineer, live sound engineer, or hip-hop artist.

One thing to note: McNally Smith has always had an "accelerated" program that allows students to earn a four-year degree in two years and eight months.