Paying It Forward
Student loan debt continues to rise, and with it concern among educators and politicians (including President Obama) and new federal policies aimed at reducing students’ burden. One small private Christian college is expanding its own efforts, embracing a trick of the trade historically used by many law schools.
Huntington University, a liberal arts college in Indiana, is offering a loan reimbursement program that will pay students’ federal and private loans if their annual salary after graduation is below $20,000; students will be covered on a proportional scale as their salaries increase up to $40,000.
As of this year, Huntington is the first institution to offer such a program to all of its incoming freshman and transfer students; most offer it only on a case-by-case basis. The approach is meant to entice students who choose a service-based career path after college and are afraid of facing unrealistic loan payments because of the generally higher tuitions at private institutions. At Huntington, about 400 students are enrolled in the program, with federal, private alternative and parent loans all covered.
The program is made possible through the Loan Repayment Assistance Program Association, a three-year-old company, which offers the same assistance to about a dozen other private colleges. The member institutions pay an average fee of $1,200 per student enrolled in the program.