Gasman said that while she believes undergraduates should be on campus for social reasons, online degree programs for older students could be a good idea for rural HBCUs such as Lincoln—about 45 miles from Philadelphia—because the campus is hard to access.

Michael Hill, Lincoln’s executive vice president, said the school recently upgraded its distance-learning facilities and hopes to offer at least one online program within a year.

“I know the value of it,” Hill said of pursuing an online degree. “For me, a person [who] couldn’t take a sabbatical … I had to work while I did it.”

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