July 21, 2020 : By Office of Communications & Public Engagement
As a pioneer in distance learning, Liberty University continues to set the precedent for online higher education in the country, hitting the milestone of 50,000 new students enrolled in its online programs for the year and reaching 108,000 online students overall. Liberty’s previous online enrollment record was 98,000 in 2014.
“Our online numbers show that more people every year are choosing to advance their careers through an institution with a long history of providing quality online programs,” said Liberty President Jerry Falwell. “With the pandemic, more people are considering online education and they’re choosing us because they know we’ve spent 40-plus years perfecting the product. Although some have tried to spread false news that our institution is failing, this milestone shows that our reputation for providing a Christian college education that sets students up for success has never been compromised.”
From 2019 to 2020, Liberty’s unduplicated headcount (individual student enrollment) for online and residential topped 127,000, and that number is trending 10% higher for next year.
“As COVID surges across the nation, Liberty’s bottom-line enrollment is surging as well,” Falwell said.
Liberty offers 450 online academic programs, from the undergraduate to the doctoral level, training students for in-demand fields such as nursing, business, computer engineering, and more, all with the same standards of academic excellence as Liberty’s residential programs.
The university’s financial reports show that, operationally, Liberty is performing at near record levels for the year.
“The average age of our online students is 37, so most of them are working adults who are looking for a program that fits their busy lifestyles as they balance their families and their jobs,” said Ron Kennedy, Executive Vice President for Enrollment Management & Marketing. “Our students tell us all the time that they chose Liberty because we provide the flexibility and convenience they need, and at an affordable cost.”
While many other online colleges have raised tuition, Liberty has been able to keep costs low as a nonprofit university. Tuition for all undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs has not increased in five years. Available grants and loans, as well as scholarships and flexible payment plans that are specifically designed for online students, are helping students reach their education goals. Special benefits are available for active military and spouses, veterans, first responders, and small business owners. Liberty also accepts corporate tuition assistance.
The distance learning program began in 1976 as the Liberty Home Bible Institute and became Liberty University School of Lifelong Learning in 1985. Through home correspondence courses with VHS tapes sent through the mail, students were able to work while attending school for the first time. The internet boom of the early 2000s made it possible for Liberty to offer Christian college degree programs exclusively online.
Falwell said residential numbers for this fall are comparable to the same date last year, and the university expects the campus to be full again this fall.