Hope the college hopes that all students will be free of tuition.
The college announced on Wednesday that it is moving towards a tuition-free financial model in which students will not be charged for tuition, but will be required to make donations to the college every year after graduation. The tuition income that the college has traditionally used to fund operations will be replaced by donation income, which must increase substantially to make the new model sustainable.
The college will not increase the percentage of donated income it spends each year. Instead, it plans to expand the size of its endowment fund.
Over the next ten years, the small Christian liberal arts college in Holland, Michigan, aims to raise $1 billion—enough to cover the tuition of all more than 3,000 undergraduates in the next few years.
“The current model essentially requires students to pay a large sum of money in advance when they are the poorest in their lives,” said Hope President Matthew Scogin. “With this model, students will come to Hope, hoping to provide all funds for their education in advance.”
First of all, Hope will pay tuition fees for dozens of students this fall. In return, the students will sign a pledge to donate to the college every year after graduation. The pledge is non-binding-students can provide any amount of their choice and will not be punished for refusing to donate after graduation.
Interested students apply to be part of the tuition-free queue. Skokin said university officials asked applicants to write an essay about desperate areas where they hope to bring hope. Only students from outside the Midwest are invited to apply for tuition-free trial operation.
“We hope to take this opportunity to expand our geographic diversity,” Skokin said. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, most hopeful students—68%—are from Michigan.
If it wants to expand its tuition-free model to cover all students — and make it sustainable for the next few years — it needs to increase its $284 million endowment fund by $1 billion. In a quiet phase of fundraising, the college has raised $30 million for this goal.
Scogin is optimistic that donors will be excited about such an ambitious goal.
“Great ideas will attract those who are excited about achieving this goal,” he said. “Actually, I think it might be easier to raise a lot of funds for a big vision than to raise funds for a medium-sized vision, etc.”
Bill Stankevich, director of the Fundraising School of the Eli Lilly Family Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University, said that Skokin’s prediction is reasonable and his optimism about raising the necessary funds is realistic.
“Big donors are excited about great ideas,” Stanchkiewicz said. “Moreover, in higher education, big donors like big ideas that involve students. This is the proposal of the Hope Academy.”
Skokin said the tuition-free program is not a strategy to increase enrollment. NCES data shows that Hope’s enrollment has remained relatively stable, hovering at around 3,200 students in the past ten years. In the 2020-21 academic year, the college enrolls 3,060 undergraduates. This fall, university officials expect the number of undergraduates to reach 3,100.
Skokin expects that the tuition-free model can increase the diversity of college students. Currently, the vast majority of the student body is white—more than four-fifths of the students are white. According to NCES data, approximately 8% of students are Hispanic or Latino, 3% are two or more races, 2% are black or African American, and 2% are Asian.
20% of Hope’s upcoming classes are non-whites-this is the most diverse class in the college to date.
The permanence of Hope’s tuition-free model—even after the college has raised the necessary funds to start it—will depend on the feedback of graduates to the college.
University officials are not interested in binding donation agreements or minimum donation requirements.
“If we recommend an amount or a recommended percentage, then, all of a sudden, it starts to feel like a different style of student loan bill,” Skokin said. “The only thing we ask students to promise is to do charity for Hope every year after they graduate. No matter how much they decide to give-it’s between them and God.”
Richard Steinberg, professor of economics, philanthropy, and public affairs at Indiana University, said that past research on alumni donations suggests that Hope’s model may see mixed results.
“For donors, reciprocity is a powerful motive, but it is not the only motive. It may not even be the strongest motive,” Steinberg said.
in A study, A university took the initiative to send gifts to potential donors. Some potential donors received high-quality gifts, while others received low-quality gifts. The study found that when donors receive unconditional, high-quality gifts, they are twice as likely to donate. In Hope’s case, the gift of high quality is tuition-free university education.
“The situation is different because they see people who have graduated receive gifts and respond in that year,” Steinberg said. “But this is a reason for hope.” The college’s plan can work.
Another study The report published in 2012 revealed the potential risks of hope. Researchers studied the impact of student bursaries on post-graduation and found that alumni who received larger bursaries donated less to the university after graduation, and accepting bursaries has little to do with whether alumni will donate.
At least one institution, the Cooper Union in New York City, has also tried a similar funding model.This private college is tuition-free for undergraduates until 2014 Start to collect tuition In the case of declining revenue and rising operating costs.University administrators say they plan Free tuition again By 2028.
Despite the potential flaws, Skokin believes that the tuition-free model is the right step of hope, and it fits very well with the mission of the Christian College.
“It turns out that the Bible says a lot about money. The Bible basically says that the purpose of money is to give away people,” he said. “This built our entire financial model around donations and generosity.”