A Money-Back Guarantee For College?
What would happen if students could get their money back for college?
Does that seem incredible? Well, some colleges and universities are pioneering policies to do just that.
For generations, students and parents have signed on for what could be the biggest expense of their lifetimes without questioning its worth. No one has argued that a college degree is worth the money.
But now, things are changing. Some students have difficulty finishing their degree on time, leading to additional expenses that they hadn’t expected. Some can’t find a job that pays enough to cover the cost of their student loans. Others may not find a job in their chosen field at all. These trends are leading many to question whether a college degree is worth the money. As with a car or a home, it seems desirable to have some assurance to fall back on in case the item is discovered to be faulty.
To respond to these concerns, colleges have come up with some creative ways to guarantee value for their tuition costs.
For example, SUNY Buffalo’s “Finish in Four” program gives students free tuition until they finish their degree if they do not attain it within four years. Davenport University guarantees extra tuition-free courses for select students who do not find employment within six months of graduation. And Adrian College guarantees assistance in paying off student loans for graduates who earn a salary of $37,000 or less.
Or Just a Marketing Ploy?
Such programs add luster to admissions brochures and are attractive to finance-savvy students and parents. But the reality is that they have to be financed somehow. How much does that really benefit students?
In most cases, such programs have strict eligibility requirements, so that only a few students can qualify to take advantage of them. Students must be willing to take a consistently full course load, receive career counseling, and pursue employment aggressively. Such strict requirements diminish the pool and ensure that the cost of a “money back guarantee” will not get out of hand. Often, schools pass on the additional cost of the program to students in the form of increases in the cost of tuition and/or books.
There’s no denying that the time has come to reconsider the monetary value of a college education and how we can make this asset more valuable. Visionary “money back guarantee” solutions are a step in the right direction, but more work needs to be done.