University of St. Thomas president reflects on two-year degree initiative

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New St. Thomas president
Julie Sullivan is the current president of the University of St. Thomas. She joined MPR News guest host Chris Farrell for a conversation about the two-year degree program at the Dougherty Family College.
Photo courtesy of the University of St. Thomas

Time to take out your No. 2 pencils.

When it comes to postsecondary education:

a. Graduates are paid more than their peers who have only a high school degree.

b. Graduates have lower rates of unemployment than less educated workers.

c. Both of the above.

Students borrow more to pay for college because:

a. College costs have risen faster than the consumer price index.

b. Family incomes have stagnated and undergraduates increasingly come from low-income families.

c. Both of the above.

If you answered "c" to both questions, your score is 100 percent.

Many of America’s colleges and universities — especially private liberal arts colleges — are under increasing financial pressure.

An intriguing experiment to confront the new demographics of higher education is underway at the University of St. Thomas and its Dougherty Family College.

The school offers a two-year degree program to low-income students, who on average pay about $2,800 per year after financial aid; some students pay as little as $1,000 per year. That cost covers two meals a day, a MetroTransit pass, free textbooks and access to a wide network of support.

The first class graduated in the spring of 2019.

University of St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan joined MPR News guest host Chris Farrell for a conversation about how the Dougherty Family College is faring and what the staff has learned since opening the school

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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