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Come to campus for the family weekend festivities, stay for a graduate degree.
That's the idea behind Northeastern University's newest tuition discount, which will give a 25 percent break to the parents or legal guardians and siblings of undergraduate students if they pursue a degree in almost any of the school's graduate programs. Northeastern said it will unroll the discount starting in spring 2016.
Officially called the Lifetime Learning Membership, it's meant to show parents that the university is looking out for them, too.
"We wanted to provide opportunities so they can continue to invest in their career goals and invest their lifelong learning goals," said Sundar Kumarasamy, vice president of enrollment management at Northeastern, a private university of 20,000 students in Boston. "We don't want to them to be delayed."
Family ties commonly lead to tuition breaks at other colleges. There have long been discounts for family members of employees and legacy scholarships for relatives of alumni. With rising tuition across the U.S., more colleges have also added discounts if families send multiple students to the same school.
Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts, for example, cuts $1,000 in tuition for each sibling.
But Northeastern said it's the first to offer breaks for sibling and parents, who automatically will get the discount if they're admitted to the university.
"We couldn't even benchmark the demand for something like this," Kumarasamy said.
The discount also aims to prepare families for a changing labor force. Jobs that require a master's degree are the fastest-growing in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That segment is projected to grow 18 percent from 2012 to 2022, fueled by the growing health care industry.
Parents and siblings at Northeastern can use the discount on most graduate programs, including nursing, law, engineering and business. It applies to degrees and certificates earned online or on campus, or a mix. Some programs that are tied to undergraduate programs don't count.
The university expects 1,000 students to use the discount in the first three years. It's projected to cost Northeastern $3 million a year in lost tuition revenue.
The program is modeled after a popular discount that Northeastern offers to alumni who want to return for graduate studies.
"We are proud to continue our commitment to meeting the needs of modern students no matter where they are in their careers or their lives," Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun said in a statement. He announced the program on Saturday during Parents and Family Weekend.
Tuition varies for Northeastern graduate programs. Many degrees are charged by semester hour, with a master's in engineering estimated to cost $45,000 in tuition, plus additional fees. On the upper end, an executive master's in business administration costs $94,500 in total.
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