The cost of getting a college education is on the rise, but Alice Lloyd College is remaining true to its long-standing mission of making an ALC education available to qualified mountain students regardless of their financial situation. So dedicated is the College to this mission, in fact, that CBS-affiliate, WYMT-TV, visited campus to discover why our students are not worried about the nation’s current student debt crisis. The report was the top story on the station’s evening news broadcast.
Research conducted by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) reveals that college students in the state owe an average of more than $19,000 apiece, and student indebtedness is growing faster than the economy, with no end in sight. Nationwide, the problem has ballooned into an epidemic, and the issue of student loan debt is now one of the chief topics on Capitol Hill. For most current and prospective students, there seems to be no workable solution, but, at Alice Lloyd College, students acknowledge that they have found one of the last great bastions of hope.
“To be able to say, ‘Oh, I am going to graduate with little to no debt whatsoever,’ is a great burden lifted off of my shoulders,” said ALC senior Trista Hibbitts. Hibbitts, a member of ALC’s Admissions Ambassadors, was one of the students featured in the WYMT news story.
Other students from inside and outside the Appalachian region, as well as students from other countries, have sought to take advantage of this unique opportunity, which has resulted in the College receiving a record number of applications.
“We will be welcoming in 210 first-time freshmen, which is the largest class of incoming freshmen we’ve seen in the last six years,” said Angie Phipps, ALC’s Director of Admissions.
The WYMT report focused on two aspects of the College’s massive appeal to potential students: its Student Work Program and the tuition guarantee. As one of the nation’s 7 work colleges, ALC requires all of its students to work on campus, which directly aids the students in paying off some of the financial costs. The tuition guarantee, which is only available to students living within our 108-county service area, covers 100 percent of a student’s undergraduate tuition fees. Students must pay for room and board (if the student lives on campus) and for all necessary textbooks, which might require some financial aid; however, the overall amount owed will be far less than what most undergraduate students face elsewhere.
Cody Johnson, a senior at ALC, spoke to WYMT about the debt many of his friends have accumulated at other colleges, indicating that several of them owe $40,000 or more. He, along with the other ALC students who were interviewed that day, reflected upon their relief about not having to borrow huge amounts of money just to be able to pay for an education.
“When I go to grad school,” said senior Ashley Deaton in the news report, “I will have to take out student loans, but it is kind of comforting knowing that I am going into that debt-free.”
Unlike most institutions, Alice Lloyd continues to help many of its students who choose to attend graduate school. Through its Caney Scholars Program, students who plan to pursue advanced degrees can receive financial support for their educational endeavors. Students attending the University of Kentucky also have the option of living in ALC’s Caney Cottage, a dormitory facility in Lexington, rent and utility free. The College only asks one thing in return from its students: that they come back to Appalachia and serve their communities.
College Vice President, Jim Stepp, contributed some very revealing information to the WYMT story, saying, “We only have about one half the number of college graduates in eastern Kentucky that you have in the rest of the state. We have more than double the poverty level. All the studies show that when you look at the economy of a region, the higher the percentage you have of students with college degrees, the lower the poverty level is.”
In these tough economic times, Alice Lloyd is aiding the Appalachian region in two significant ways: making a college education affordable and, as has always been its goal, to provide the leaders it so desperately needs. As a private institution, the College receives no government funding, which means that it relies on fundraising and independent donations from institutions and individuals across the nation. Without this money, ALC would not be able to financially support its students in such a unique and important manner.
“We are blessed to be able to do this,” Jim Stepp said.
As a testament to a belief in its purpose and mission, the amount at which ALC alumni have been giving back to the College is unprecedented. This summer, the percentage of alumni sending in an annual donation reached a record participation level of 42%. With such faithful support, ALC can continue to move mountains for Appalachia, churning out educated young men and women who are ready to serve and are not held back by the skyrocketing costs of a college degree.
To see the original WYMT report, click here.