While students riot in the UK over hikes in tuition, the President of McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota, Harry Chalmiers, announced that he is freezing tuition at one of the United States’ leading music colleges where degrees are available in Music Performance, Music Business, Composition, Recording and Production and Hip-Hop — the first diploma program of its kind in the country.

Citing the ongoing recessionary economy and its difficult effect on families and students, Chalmiers said on his newest blog posting — “Good Education in a Bad Economy“  — that the school would freeze tuition for students who choose to attend consecutive semesters (fall, spring, and summer) until the completion of their degree program. The option is also available to new students upon entering the college, which is celebrating its 25th year in 2010-2011.

“An economic downturn, however drastic, is temporary. Choosing a life in music provides challenge, opportunity, and deep satisfaction based on doing what you love to do,” Chalmiers wrote. “Music education is broad and builds skills that are applicable to any field of work….Because the country is in a difficult place does not mean that you should give up your dreams in exchange for a ‘safer’ career path. Unfortunately, many people are unemployed today who thought they were in ‘safe’ careers.”

The president, who was named one of “40 Minnesotans on the Move” by Finance and Commerce this year for growing enrollment during the deep recession and establishing many community-driven affiliations with organizations such as Minnesota Public Radio and others as well as developing the nation’s first Hip-Hop program, hoped the freeze would encourage McNally Smith students to stay in school.

He also said the move tells prospective students thinking about an education and career in music not to settle for second-best by doing something they weren’t passionate about by going to another school to study subjects  besides music simply because of economic conditions. “We want current and prospective students to still be able to follow their passion for music,” he stressed. McNally Smith tuition — averaging roughly $11,000 per semester — is still “substantially below that of other leading music schools like Berklee College of Music.”

Graduating sooner results in significant cost savings and student’s ability to enter careers faster

A subsequent letter to students from McNally Smith’s Dean of Academic Affairs, Cliff Wittstruck, underscored the advantages of the tuition freeze:

  • As you can imagine, this policy change has the possibility of saving you thousands of dollars.

  • If you are a first year student and follow this plan, you have the opportunity to complete your four-year bachelor degree in two years and eight months. So, in addition to the tuition savings, you will also save on housing, food and travel expenses.

  • Attending the McNally Smith College of Music year-round allows you the ability to complete your education sooner and get on with your career as a performer, composer, music business professional, producer, recording engineer, live sound engineer, or hip-hop artist.

About McNally Smith College of Music

Founded in 1985, McNally Smith College of Music is one of the top music and music business colleges in the country devoted to excellence in music industry higher education and in developing music industry professionals. An accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music, McNally Smith offers music degrees and programs in Music Performance, Recording Technology and Music Business. As of 2009, it is the only accredited music college to offer a diploma in Hip-Hop.

With more than 650 students and an 80-member faculty, McNally Smith students get a personalized music education that combines musical artistry and wide access to current music technology, research tools and performance facilities. Its diverse faculty includes Grammy® Award nominees, Hollywood film composers, Broadway veterans,  players in Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” assorted Nashville Cats, best-selling Jazz men, authors, major label rockers, Billboard chart toppers, commissioned composers, accomplished producers and engineers who have worked with everyone from Atmosphere, Prince, Phil Collins and Aretha Franklin to Yanni, Paula Abdul, Dick Dale and countless other rockers, combos, orchestras, recording labels, and industry executives who care deeply about their art and the next generation of music makers. McNally Smith alumni are working all over the world.

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