University of Mary offering year-round campus option

BISMARCK, N.D. - Student loan debt in the U.S. has reached almost $1.5 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. Today's students are looking for ways to reduce the financial burden. University of Mary students have a new option to save money and time.

AnneMarie Hansen moved to North Dakota in August 2016 to begin her freshman year at the University of Mary. A year and a half later, and she's already a couple weeks into her junior year.

“I started realizing more and more, how am I going to set myself up for a financial future?” Hansen said. “Well, saving money on the short end will save me money in the long run.”

She's saving money by taking classes year-round. Taking a full load of classes last summer and this summer sets her on track to earn her bachelor's degree in marketing in about two and a half years. The idea was pitched by university President Monsignor James Shea a couple years ago.

“What we're going to do is we're going to rollout this innovative new opportunity for students in which they can finish quicker for less money and they can get the full college experience in the midst of it,” Shea said.

The idea was rolled out in the summer of 2016 as a pilot program. Benefits include decreased cost of living on campus during the summer, increased opportunities to travel around the area during the summer, campus work opportunities and a greater chance for one-on-one time with professors.

“The dynamic on campus in the summer is a little bit different; it's much smaller class sizes which I really enjoyed,” Hansen said.

According to a study commissioned by the university, the move to year round campus will have a lifetime financial benefit for one student of over $320,000.

“Where I see this program going here is that it's going to make the year-round experience into the default for the university student at the University of Mary,” Shea said. “Always leaving open that traditional option of going for four years for your bachelor’s degree.”

Shea believes it will be the new model of higher education in the future.

As for AnneMarie, she will finish her junior year at the end of the summer semester, and is set to graduate next spring.

To find out more about the year-round campus program, go to umary.edu.