Will students pay more for an honors degree?

Community colleges are known for low tuition — and low prestige. A new company called Quad Learning is teaming with community colleges to offer an online honors curriculum, reports Inside Higher Ed. Investors hope students will pay more for an honors degree.

American Honors is being piloted at Community Colleges of Spokane and at three campuses of Ivy Tech Community College, in Indiana.

Students enrolled in the program — which is delivered in an online, synchronous format, but with extracurricular and other face time — pay more than they would to enroll in the traditional academic programs at their institutions, but significantly less than they would at most public and private four-year alternatives.

Next year, students will compete for 160 slots in Spokane’s program, paying $5,985 for the year, compared to the normal $3,921 tuition for in-state students.

Colleges will use the extra tuition to pay Quad Learning for its technology and coaching services.

For those extra dollars, students have much smaller classes, significantly more interaction with academic coaches from their colleges and from American Honors, and much more help in college guidance to help them prepare to transfer once they’re done, said Lisa Avery, dean of American Honors and global education at Community Colleges of Spokane.

Community college instructors in the American Honors network will collaborate on curriculum development and set common learning outcomes. However, each college will be able to adapt learning materials and assign its own faculty members to teach the honors courses. Honors graduates will find it easier to transfer to top universities, predicts Quad Learning.