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    It's been a full year of Affordable Excellence in action at Roger Williams University, and yet higher education in America remains at a crossroads. As seen through the media on a regular basis, comments by government officials and more importantly the students and parents we serve, a college education must become more relevant, more accessible and more affordable. The decision before us is not whether to address the issues, but rather how to accomplish this task.

    In the last year, the University has made significant progress in addressing the issues of cost, debt and jobs through the Affordable Excellence initiative. Already, President Farish and the University's Board of Trustees have announced that tuition for the incoming class of 2014 will remain frozen at the 2012 - 2013 rate. Furthermore, that rate is guaranteed for all four years that a student is continuously enrolled as an undergraduate day student. That is a significant savings that directly benefits our students and their families.

    "President Farish has committed …  to making college affordable and making the experience very practical [for RWU students]" -  U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

    In January, the University even expanded Affordable Excellence to the School of Law, which means law students benefit, too. Plus, there's so much more to Affordable Excellence than the tuition freeze and guarantee, and the University is constantly striving to ensure student success. Here are nine things you need to know about Affordable Excellence as we move forward:

    Nine Things You Need to Know

    1. Significant Savings – Guaranteed.

    RWU has announced that it is once again freezing tuition at the 2012-2013 rate, and guaranteeing that rate for four years for the class of 2014. Considering that the national average tuition increase is 3 to 5 percent per year, this will result in a savings of up to $15,700 over four years!

    2. Opportunities abound.

    After an illustrious undergraduate career where she took advantage of multiple opportunities to practice journalism in the "real world", Lorin Richardson '09 can be found putting her experience to great use on News 12 Connecticut. Beginning this year, students who, like Lorin, have tremendous on- and off-campus experiences will be able to formalize their work, leadership and extracurricular activities through an innovative co-curricular transcript.

    3. Community partnerships are thriving.

    Fifty projects, 35 partner organizations, 39 faculty members, 529 students and some 23,000 hours of student and faculty work – those numbers offer a glimpse at the total impact that the Community Partnerships Center boasts to date, even as it begins just its third year connecting students and faculty with local non-profits and municipalities.

    4. Technology equals collaboration and cost savings.

    Thanks to a new partnership with Samsung, RWU's newest technology (rCloud) is reducing costs for students and the University, boosting computing capacity across campus and allowing computer labs to become collaborative learning spaces.

    5. We impact the local environment and economy.

    As the University’s marine biology program celebrates 40 years of teaching and research, the Center for Economic and Environmental Development (CEED) promotes the environmentally sustainable development of marine industries with a particular emphasis on aquaculture.

    6. At RWU Law, experience is guaranteed.

    Hands-on, practical opportunities are at the heart of an RWU legal education; so much so that they're built into the curriculum and explicitly guaranteed to every qualified student. For many, the experiences are formative enough to inspire career choices. Now, every RWU Law student has that opportunity. Learn more about Affordable Excellence at RWU Law.

    7. Students abroad are not just tourists.

    Most schools can boast that they offer students the chance to study abroad and to travel and learn about another culture, but not many provide a multitude of experiential learning opportunities around the world. At RWU, study abroad combines culture, classes and hands-on opportunities.

    8. Our undergraduates are researchers.

    When small classes, access to faculty members and research opportunities for undergraduates all come together, our students win. Thanks to faculty support, students like Sam '14 (pictured) are applying to (and receiving) prestigious NSF grants and pushing themselves further than they thought possible.

    9. Diversity matters.

    With a commitment to inclusive excellence on campus, the University welcomes the most diverse class in school history this fall. The increase is due, in part, to programs designed to foster a sense of community; programs that inspired recent graduate and ILA scholar Tracy Smith ’13 to remain in Rhode Island after she landed a prestigious and highly sought-after fellowship at The Learning Community, a public charter school in Central Falls.