Much is pointing to 2019 being a bad time to start a university: Private colleges are tipping toward closure and enrollment is dropping at schools across the state.
But the couple behind a new graduate college in Osage, Iowa, are undeterred.
The Art of Education University, started by Jessica and Derek Balsley, is one of only two for-profit universities to open in Iowa in the last nine years, according to Iowa College Aid. As far as the Balsleys know, the college is the only non-religious graduate university established in Iowa in the last 50 years.
The graduate program targets K-12 art teachers, who founders argue are under-resourced across the U.S. Tuition costs $13,314 and all classes are online, which the Balsleys say will help keep them in business during this troubling higher-ed climate and allow them to reach their target student.
The online college has been in the works since 2009. Fed up with the quality of professional development available to her as a K-5 art teacher in a large Iowa school district, Jessica Balsley began publishing lesson plans and videos under the blog “Art of Education.”