All webmail providers should be excited by this story published by the ReadWriteWeb for two reasons:
1. There is a never ending stream of new students going to college every year
2. Most students keep an email address they started using in college well after they have graduated
Email is like a gateway drug - the providers can peddle advertisements, related web properties, and new services to their new (and hopefully loyal) users. College students possess an uncanny knack to influence not only their friends but also their less-web-savvy family, and this halo effect can only bring more subscribers to the fold. All in all, this change sounds like a great opportunity for Yahoo! and Google, the 2 webmail services best equipped to provide colleges with specialized email services. I can't imagine them charging colleges more than a nominal fee for this service, an amount that colleges won't begrudge. As the article states, college students use external email providers already and college email services are way behind the curve:
Schools, for the most part, aren't able to keep up with the speed of innovation on the web anyway, and the fact that many college-run email systems have fallen far behind the innovation curve has driven a lot of students to just forward their school email to a commercial account anyway.
the days when colleges provided the most important on-ramp to email and the Internet for their students are long over.