Michigan College Guarantees Graduates Make $37,000 A Year, Or It Will Help Pay Off Their Student Loans

A small, private college in Michigan is giving new meaning to the idea of “gainful employment.” While the government’s recent rule was implemented to protect students from predatory for-profit colleges, non-profit institution Adrian College is making a guarantee to students aimed at helping them weather the high cost of student loans: make more than $37,000 a year after college or get some or all of your student loans reimbursed.

The Associated Press reports that the small Michigan institution provides the guarantee to incoming freshmen and transfer students who have student loans and at least two years of school remaining.

Jeffrey Docking, president of Adrian College, says the program was created as a solution to increased tuition costs and student loan defaults.

The school is able to provide the guarantee by taking out insurance policies on its students. This year alone, the school paid $575,000 for policies covering 495 students.

Students who graduate from Adrian and make less than $20,000 benefit most from the program, as the school will make full monthly student loans payments until the student makes $37,000 a year.

Graduates who make between $20,000 and $37,000 will receive student loan repayment by the college on a sliding scale.

The payment plan has no time limit, but the college caps total loan payments at $70,000 per student.

Adrian currently has an enrollment of 1,700 students, who pay an estimated $40,000 per year for tuition and room and board before financial aid, the AP reports.

“Obviously, we feel like this is a big solution to a big problem — maybe the biggest problem right now in higher education,” Docking says. “We felt like we needed to make a grand statement.”

In the past, colleges have used such guarantees to bolster enrollment for specific programs such as social work.

Docking says Adrian’s program was inspired by neighboring small Christian institution Spring Arbor University, which provided a similar guarantee to incoming freshman in the fall 2013.

A spokesman for Spring Arbor says that while the program has been successful, they will likely scale it back next year.

Both guarantee programs were made possible by the Loan Repayment Assistance Program Association, a Bloomington, Indiana-based organization that works with U.S. colleges and universities, the AP reports.

Peter Samuelson, president of the organization, says the repayment programs create an environment where students are more likely to complete their education successfully.

Docking tells the AP that he’s worked to spread word about the school’s guarantee not just to prospective students, but to other schools and legislators.

“We’re talking about this far and wide because we hope other colleges do it as well,” he says.

While the program might offer incentive for students to attend college, college planning experts say that lowering tuition in the first place might work just as well.

“Obviously, loan repayment assistance provides assistance after the fact, and that has value,” he says. “But it would be better to charge less in the first place.”

In the past year, colleges, cities and companies have increasingly provided support to students facing crippling student loan debt. Earlier this month, Consumerist reported that the city of Niagara Falls began enticing recent grads to move to the area by promising to help pay their student loans.

Back in July, Indiana University revealed that it help save students an estimated $31,000 in loans by sending them a letter informing them, before they took out additional loans for the next school term, what their monthly loan payment would be after graduation.

College sees small, big benefits with loan promise [The Associated Press]

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