Helping Students Graduate with Zero Student Debt Should Be the Goal of All Colleges
We don’t think graduating with a mortgage on your education needs to be a solution to college access. And as a private institution, we’ve done something about it. We make college accessible without lots of debt.
The Student Debt Project combines financial literacy education, jobs and mentorships to create a pathway for students to graduate with little or no debt. McPherson College is matching a percentage of every dollar students contribute to their education while they are in the program. Dedicated community mentors are supporting our students as they balance work, education and life during their college career, as well as providing financial management skills for a lifetime.
We developed the Student Debt Project because it’s good for the economy, good for families, good for Kansas, and good for the nation. Read more
“I’ve been able to cut my tuition debt in half."Kylee Martin, Senior
Kylee entered the Student Debt Project as a sophomore. "It’s nice knowing that I don’t have to ask my parents for money. I even have some money saved for emergencies, and I’ve learned things that I will use the rest of my life."
The Debt Project is intended for students who are willing to work while earning their degree. Students should expect to work 15-25 hours per week for 52 weeks. Students are expected to apply, interview and secure employment. The Career Services office will work with employers and determine a list of local employers that students can pursue. Students may work on campus but the earning potential is limited to the current student rate of pay where off-campus jobs often pay more. Ideally, students will earn approximately $10/hour.
McPherson College will match the earnings applied to their account at $.25 per dollar. Proof of student’s earned income is required before dollars are matched. Funds given by a parent or other monetary gifts are not matched.
Students will be paired with a mentor that will meet with them on a monthly basis to review how they are doing with school work, employment, activities that they participate in, and how things are going in their lives. The mentor will also review the amount the student has applied to their account and discuss how they are doing to reach their goals. Mentors can be McPherson College faculty or staff or community members.
Students will be required to take a one hour workshop in leadership that addresses issues in personal finance, personal budgeting, interviewing skills, building a resume, leadership on campus, leadership in the community.
Students interested in the Debt Project will complete an application. The application will be reviewed by the Debt Project team which includes the director of financial aid, the vice president for enrollment, the vice president for finance, the assistant controller and the director of career services. A budget worksheet will be prepared to outline how the debt project can benefit the student. For incoming freshmen the budget worksheet will show the amount the student needs to earn per year in order to graduate from MC with $0 to $10,000 in student loan debt. Returning students may participate in the program but because of prior loans it will be less likely to graduate with less than $10,000 in loans.
Freshmen selected for the Debt Project will receive a budget worksheet that outlines the potential to graduate with $0 in student loans. Returning and new transfer students may also participate in the program but the debt reduction goals will be different based on prior loan accrual. The budget worksheet will give an example of how much needs to be earned each year in order to reach that goal. The budget worksheet is individualized to each student’s financial situation.
The Program Coordinator will oversee the project and is responsible for connecting students with mentorship, financial planning sessions, and Career Services to help secure employment.
The program coordinator will survey the mentors and the students at the end of each semester. The survey will track the following:
- How much has been applied to the student account?
- How often has the student met with their mentor?
- Did they attend the workshop? If yes, what are three things they found valuable? What would they like to see included in the workshop?
- Semester GPA
- Has the student created a budget?
- What do participants like about the Student Debt Project?
- What could we do to improve the Student Debt Project for participants?
- How often have the mentors met with their mentee?
- Does the mentor think the student is able to balance work and school?
- Have they created a budget?
- What is working with the program?
- How can we improve the program for future students?
For more information please contact Sara Brubaker, director of financial aid, at firstname.lastname@example.org.