05/12/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

University Of Illinois: Three-Year Degree Program Would Cut Cost Of Education

In an effort to make education less costly for students, the University of Illinois's flagship campus may launch a three-year Bachelor's degree program.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, interim president Stanley Ikenberry is looking at the program to get students into the job market earlier, and to save them the cost of a fourth year living on a college campus.

"Time is money,'' Ikenberry said. "One of the hidden costs of college is forgone income.''

The program, which could be instituted at the Urbana-Champaign campus as soon as the fall of 2011, would require a great deal of extra effort on the student's part. Students will have to make up the additional coursework in summer courses, winter-break sessions and online study.

But the university would make concessions as well. Nicholas Burbules, a professor of education at the U. of I., suggested that the school would start accepting more high school and community college courses for credit.

As many as one in five Urbana-Champaign students could be eligible for the program, the paper reported. Significantly fewer would be likely to follow the program at the University of Illinois's Chicago campus, where only 21 percent of students graduate in four years as it is. But the increase in summer and online course offerings would be welcomed by UIC students, many of whom take longer to graduate because they're working through school.

While ostensibly designed to make it easier to for students to pay for school, the measure is also an attempt to raise money for the University of Illinois system, which has been struggling with statewide budget shortfalls.

As online and summer courses "wouldn't necessarily cost less," students might be paying four years' tuition for a three-year program.