Several students, advocates and legislators gathered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on March 27 and rallied in support of making higher education affordable.
“Most people want this education but they can’t afford it,“ said Shanelle Spotts, student of Wilson College. “So having a more affordable education like this gives people the opportunities that they want.“
Spotts plans on pursuing a career as a veterinarian; however, she says she wouldn’t have this opportunity if classes weren’t affordable.
“Because I didn’t think it was going to be possible because vet school is so expensive and your undergrad is so expensive,“ said Spotts.
In 2013, Wilson’s board of trustees reduced tuition by $5,000, and that rate has stayed relatively the same as the president, Barbara Mistick, pushed to make the cost of education reasonable.
“We have a great number of our students who come to Wilson who are first generation students,“ said Mistick. “And we really knew that if we could make this a more affordable experience, that it would help students be more successful.“
And as a way to push for success, Wilson introduced its debt buyback plan in which the college pays up to $10,000 towards federal Stafford Loans if the student meets academic and extracurricular requirements.
“In order to graduate in four years, you do have to apply yourself academically and you have to study hard and work hard,“ said Mistick. “But we also want it to be affordable so that when you leave you feel like you can afford your loan payments.“
However, the program is unique to Wilson College, and according to the Institute for Higher Education Policy, Pennsylvania is number one in student debt.