Obama’s shoutout highlights SNHU innovation

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is seizing on a shoutout from President Obama to highlight an online program innovation that saves students money by focusing on competency rather than class time.

Obama has pitched myriad proposals for lowering college costs.

Obama mentioned the Manchester-based university Aug. 21 in a speech proposing a broad new government rating system for colleges that would judge them on their affordability. He also praised SNHU’s College for America program as an innovative approach that “gives students credit for how well they master the material.”

“If you are learning the material faster, you can finish faster, which means you pay less,” Obama said Aug. 22 in Buffalo, N.Y.

The SNHU online associate of arts degree program was launched last year and was the first of its kind to be approved for federal financial aid. Offered to working adult students through their employers, the SNHU program innovation costs $2,500 per year and has no traditional classes, instructors or grades.

Instead, students work through material at their own pace and are tested on their mastery of nine skill areas, such as communication and critical thinking.

SNHU advisers point them to free documents and other learning material, and students are encouraged to work with each other on projects.