A small liberal arts college in Michigan announced a tuition-free plan, hoping that students will “pay the price” after graduation.

Hope College will launch a pilot program called “Hope Forward” this fall to provide full tuition scholarships to 22 freshmen, and plans to expand it to the entire student body over time.

“University is priceless, but it has become too expensive,” said Matthew Skokkin, president of Hope College.

Compared with before, we encourage students to invest after Hope receives their education. The college-wide strategy was unanimously approved by the board of directors in January, depending on its ability to increase the endowment fund by more than $1 billion—a feat that could take about ten years.

Since Skoking envisioned the plan in 2019, the college has raised more than $30 million for this work.

“We want to get rid of the idea that students are customers,” Skokin said. “We actually believe that treating students like customers is harmful to a healthy learning environment.”

The private Christian college is not the first to raise funds to reduce tuition.

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York in 2013 and Reduce the full tuition scholarship for undergraduates to 50%. Five years later, the university Announced renewed commitment to free tuition Plans to raise 250 million US dollars within 10 years.

St. John’s College, which has campuses in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Annapolis, Maryland, has been cutting tuition fees for students in recent years. Shift to a charity-centric funding model To maintain the $17,000 tuition reduction. In 2018, the college set a $300 million fundraising goal, of which $200 million was used for donations.

According to Skokin, Hope’s total undergraduate tuition and fees last year exceeded US$35,300, but considering scholarships and other financial aid, the average student paid less than US$20,000. Approximately 15% of college students receive full tuition support, including scholarships and performance-based and demand-based awards outside the college.

Although Skokin admitted that his plan was ambitious, he was encouraged by the funds he hoped to raise before the plan was publicly announced. With funding from an anonymous donor, the college plans to launch another pilot cohort in the fall of 2022.

But Skokin does not expect to reach the goal of free tuition anytime soon. He believes this is a long-term commitment to the new financial model.

“We still have a long way to go,” Skokin said.

Experts say that as states withdraw funding for higher education, many institutions have to solve the problem themselves.

Before the pandemic, universities had seen increasing financial pressure. According to David V. Rosowsky, the vice president of Kansas State University for research, these institutions are now under increasing pressure as the cost of providing education continues to rise.

Rosowsky said: “They will have to expand their thinking a little bit and how they generate the required income so that they can make their students affordable for their education.” “Historically, you have raised tuition fees every year. You can’t do it anymore. Did that.”

Linda Durant, vice president of development for the non-profit Education Promotion and Support Committee, said that philanthropy-based solutions are becoming more and more common.

“Many public and private institutions now attach great importance to raising more scholarships,” Durant said.

But Rosowsky expressed doubts about the shelf life of the free tuition model. He said that its success depends on the financial security of the college or university.

“Unless they have a very, very deep pocket underneath, their lifespan may be limited,” he said.

Hope College’s strategy is to strengthen its alumni network so that students who eventually graduate from the program will continue to retain students who come in. One of the college’s other goals is to expand its geographic diversity, which is why Skokin’s application for this year’s pilot program says that only people from states outside the Midwest can use it. He added that ethnic diversity is also a priority for the hope to move forward; 50% of admitted students are non-white, and 30% are international students. Interested applicants must also meet the 3.0 or higher GPA requirement and answer an essay prompt about the desperate field in which they hope to bring hope. The finalists were interviewed through Zoom.

Skokin hopes that without worrying about tuition fees, students can be freed from this group of people and pursue their dreams after graduation.

“Many students have found a way to barely survive and afford college fees, but they are burdened with huge debts,” Skokin said. “Then after they graduated, they finally gave up their dreams because they were heavily in debt and had to find a job that could pay the bills.”

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