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Apr 11, 2017 01:06 PM EDT

South Carolina State University Partners With University of Phoenix To Offer Online Courses [VIDEO]

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South Carolina State University in partnership with the University of Phoenix, plan to offer online courses to help college dropouts return to school and complete degrees. However, it is uncertain if the program will work.

The University of Phoenix has a track record of low graduation rates and high loads of student debt. Higher education community critics have questioned the S.C. State's push to enter into the partnership. University of Phoenix stands to make a big profit of the deal.

S.C. State agreed to pay $395 for every online course each student enrolls, starting this fall. They have sent invitations to about 2,500 former students who dropped out of undergraduate programs. If each of these undergrads took just on online class, University of Phoenix would receive an almost $1 million payout, The Post and Courier reported.

Bulldog Academic Resumption Covenant (BARC) program will offer a 50 percent discount on tuition to returning students who qualify for the program. They will also get re-admission fees waived and earn up to 24 percent of their total required credits for graduation. Any remaining credits will have to be earned in courses directly offered by S.C. State.

S.C. State Interim Provost Learie Luke said they are working to create their own online course program by starting with initial training for professors this year. He said that in the long run, they might ask University of Phoenix to provide training to instructors. Luke added that it may take time to build capacity, which is why they want to work with somebody who's long-established in the field.

The program comes after years of dwindling enrollment and financial distress at S.C. State, which is the only public historically black university in South Carolina. In 2016, the state legislature voted to forgive $12 million in outstanding loans to the university. It narrowly averted its closure and loss of accreditation.

S.C. State must increase its enrollment. Their current enrollment is at 2,905. University of Phoenix believe that American students are best served when diverse institutions in higher education work together to improve retention and outcomes.

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