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Working with parents and students for an affordable future Geoffrey M. Cox | Fri, Aug 23 2013 05:40 PM

Alliant International University has been in the local news lately because we responded to an invitation from the Sweetwater Union High School District to offer classes leading to a four-year bachelor’s degree in the South Bay starting this fall.  Some people have questioned the idea of inviting a private, not-for-profit institution into the community on the assumption that it is unaffordable or that it would lead students into high levels of debt.  In fact, Alliant, like many private institutions, works with students and their families to find an affordable path through college. 

Here are the facts in Alliant’s case:  Tuition for one year of full-time undergraduate study is priced at just over $15,000.   For California residents, Alliant will provide scholarships of $3,000 to $4,000, depending on the student’s entering grade point average, and these amounts will increase in later years if the student continues to make good progress toward the degree.   We have agreed to add another $1,000 per year in scholarships for Sweetwater District students.

But that’s just the beginning.  Students with at least a 3.0 grade average may be eligible for more than $9,000 per year through the state’s Cal Grant program.  Federal programs such as the Pell Grant, which are targeted at low and middle-income families, can add another $5,000 or $6,000 to the aid package.

In other words, some students qualify for financial aid that meets nearly all of the cost of education.   We assist families in exploring and applying for these options, and we encourage students to take full advantage of them before they consider borrowing a penny.  Many of our students also work at least part-time to help defray college expenses.

Every private college and university has its own approach to financial aid, and some even promise to make it possible for every admitted student to attend, regardless of their ability to pay.  Families should look beyond the published tuition; the true cost of attendance is likely much different, and may vary greatly depending on individual circumstances.  Studies have shown that many students are unaware of the full range of financial aid available to them, and this lack of knowledge may keep them from pursuing higher education altogether.

Higher education in the United States consists of many kinds of institutions: public and private, large and small.  California’s public institutions have been under severe budget strain in recent years, causing them to turn away many qualified students, limit the availability of some classes, and raise fees.  As a result, many private universities have tried to rethink how they can help serve the growing demand for higher education in our region.   No single institution will answer every need and interest.   In addition to cost, students should carefully consider factors such as the programs of study offered, class size, graduation rates, the average time it takes to complete a degree, support services, extracurricular opportunities, and the experiences of current students and alumni.  The most important question is, “which institution is right for me?”

Exactly 40 years ago I graduated from high school and entered college.  My family had no extra money for tuition.  I received a generous scholarship from a local private college and I lived at home to save money.  I also worked at countless part-time jobs and took out some student loans.  Later I went to another private university to pursue a graduate degree, still working and occasionally borrowing to support myself and pay for my education.  Millions of other students have made their way through school the same way, and many of us would say it was the best investment we ever made. 

Cox is the president of  Alliant International University

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anniej Says:

Thu, Sep 05 2013 03:34 PM

We are now hearing thAt Alliant is going to be on the grounds of Sweetwater High School soon. WHY? HOW?

Will rent be paid? if so how much? Will this be a gift of public funds?

Fran Brinkman Says:

Wed, Sep 04 2013 12:50 PM

If you ask the district about the cost for our high school students to attend Alliant Middle College located at Hilltop HS and Otay Ranch HS they will tell you it's free. Only the cost of books is being asked. I wonder how long that will last.

Fran Brinkman Says:

Tue, Sep 03 2013 04:41 PM

His lips are moving, he is lying.

anniej Says:

Tue, Sep 03 2013 12:15 PM

3- why should a parent or student attend your classes and pay your fees when Southwestern College is so much less expensive?

4- why were our resources i.e. administrators etc. allegedly being used to make calls that were 'steering' students in the Alliant direction?

5- why were Counselors allegedly mandated to 'guide' students' to your institution?

6- why were ROBO CALLS made to homes of students promoting your college, at our expense?

7- why was Promise Neighborhoods using tax dollars to promote your institution?

8- last but not least WAS THERE A BACK ROOM DEAL between you and Brand that benefitted Brand?

anniej Says:

Tue, Sep 03 2013 12:07 PM

Putting all of the positives of your claims regarding Alliant a few questions remain. If I may:

1- why should your college be given the preferenckial treatment of free rent in buildings that our tax dollars paid for?

2- why did Ed Brand do everything and anything possible to hide the details of your agreement with SUHSD, including the allegation that there were two MOU's?

3- why were our resources i

sosocal Says:

Mon, Sep 02 2013 09:53 AM

Way to soft-soap the issue, Mr. Cox.

The economics of higher education should dictate that people actually learn something from the classes they take. I remain completely unconvinced that Alliant is doing that.

The example of your alumnus Ed Brand will never lend credence to any claims of academic excellence.

Ateacher Says:

Sun, Sep 01 2013 05:38 PM

Students are not eligible for financial aid like Cal Grants until they have a diploma per federal aid guidelines. Sweetwater students who wish to concurrently enroll will not get this $.

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