By From the Lowell Sun
By Hillary Chabot
For many students in southern New Hampshire, the University of Massachusetts Lowell is so close, yet so far.
While right next door on the map, UMass Lowell's $20,000-a-year out-of-state costs make it miles away for some, which is why the school outlined a dramatic cost savings for a dozen of those communities yesterday in an aggressive move to increase enrollment and revenues.
"We've been working to become a world-class university, and as part of that strategy, we need to attract students from outside Massachusetts," said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. "We think there are a lot of students who would like to come to UMass Lowell within a 20-mile radius and we'd like to give them that opportunity. It's a win-win."
The break will help about 125 students now attending UMass Lowell from southern New Hampshire communities -- as well as any new students from those communities -- save $6,386 a year starting in fall 2008.
UMass Lowell students from Nashua, Salem, Derry, Londonderry, Hudson, Merrimack, Pelham, Atkinson, Windham, Hollis, Brookline and Litchfield will get the new rate.
Students from those towns will still be paying about $5,000 more than state residents.
"They are already paying significantly more even with this break," Meehan said. "You cannot have a world-class university without diversity."
Some Alvirne High School students live closer to UMass Lowell's 11,000-student campus than their own high school in Hudson, said Bill Hughen, guidance director at Alvirne High School. The price break means several students will be able to consider UMass Lowell more seriously, Hughen said.
"I just think this will be a boon for a lot of kids," Hughen said. "Once word gets out, I can only see the applications going up. The money issue for parents is huge. If you can save them $5,000 or $6,000 a year at a local school that's awesome."
The program was approved through the New England Board of Higher Education, which already offered a regional discount program for out-of-state students. Under the Tuition Break program, students in majors not offered in their home state can attend college in another New England state and get in-state tuition.
The new step allows students to get the break no matter what their major, said Wendy Lindsay, director of the Regional Student Program at the NEBHE. UMass Lowell will be the first major four-year school from eastern Massachusetts to put the proximity program into play.
Many community colleges, including Middlesex Community College, already offer the price break, Lindsay said.
While UMass Lowell is actively recruiting students, Robert McGann, director of admissions at the University of New Hampshire, said he's not concerned about losing students.
"It's a nice opportunity for people living in border communities," McGann said, adding that UNH is not considering its own price break. "The cost would still be more expensive than if they chose to come to UNH, so there has to be a program they're looking for."
UMass Lowell has included one caveat in its bid to lure students over the border.
Students in communities that are closer to Manchester than Lowell and are majoring in programs the University of New Hampshire at Manchester offers will not get the reduced price.
Those towns include Derry, Litchfield, Londonderry and Merrimack. Students majoring in English, psychology, history or nursing, or who are undeclared, will miss out on the savings.