McPherson College maintained the upward enrollment trend established over the past eight years as it welcomed the class of 2026 to campus on August 24 for the start of fall semester classes. More than 60% of all students beginning the new academic year are enrolled in the college’s Student Debt Project.
In its fourth year, the debt project offers McPherson College students an opportunity to reduce their student loans by blending financial literacy education, mentorship, and work ethic while reinforcing life skills and values of personal responsibility, self-reliance, and financial well-being. Along with matching funds and a pay-as-you-go option, the program matches students with mentors to answer financial questions. This year, more than 60 alumni and friends of the college from across the country serve as mentors to individuals and small groups of students in the program. Students also gain leadership skills by serving as peer mentors for each of the mentoring groups.
So far students participating in the program have reduced their projected debt at graduation by nearly $12,000 while maintaining a higher-than-average 3.3 GPA for working students. The average debt at graduation for the class of 2022 was $16,700, one of the lowest among four-year colleges and universities in Kansas. At the end of the 2021-22 academic year, nearly 30% of the students in the debt project reported zero debt, and nearly another 30% reported less than $2,000 in debt. And 93% of the students who participate in the debt program return to McPherson College to complete their education.
“The debt project was an idea that evolved from our Community by Design strategic plan,” said Michael Schneider, McPherson College president. “It is rewarding for our campus to see the positive impact it has on our students. Especially our graduates who are leaving here with less debt on average than students at other institutions and starting their post-graduation life financially healthy.”
Cheneal Benne, who has been in the program for three years said, “The biggest benefit I receive is definitely the matching funds. It has been my motivator to be smart about my spending habits.”
The Student Debt Project is just one way to gain important career experience. A majority of McPherson College students work at part-time jobs or internships that when paired with a career-focused curriculum gives them an advantage when they join the job market. At commencement in May, two-thirds of the graduating class had secured jobs, military service, or post-graduation placement. That is three times the national average. After six months, 95% of McPherson College graduates are employed or accepted into graduate school.
“The Student Debt Project, along with our focus on experiential learning gives our students a head start when they join the competitive job market or apply for graduate school,” said Amy Beckman, executive director of the Career and Experiential Learning Office. “McPherson College students are eager to enter the workforce to gain valuable experience for their future careers.”
Learn more about campus resources or becoming an employer partner at the Career and Experiential Learning Office.