Indiana College Guarantees Aid, Diploma, Job or Grad School

A private Indiana college is guaranteeing next year's incoming freshmen will receive financial aid, a diploma within four years, and either a job or graduate school admission after they graduate as long as they meet certain conditions.

Manchester College announced its Triple Guarantee plan Tuesday to reassure parents concerned about their investments in higher education for their children, said Dave McFadden, executive vice president for the liberal arts college.

"More and more families are concerned about affordability," McFadden said. "This is an attempt to affirm or put up front (that) we're aware of those concerns."

The guarantees were developed after administrators at the 1,150-student school noticed parents were asking earlier in the college selection process about financial aid, McFadden said.

President Jo Young Switzer said Manchester long has been committed to offering class schedules, advising and other support so students can graduate within four years and to prepare students for careers after college.

More than 85 percent of Manchester graduates already finish within four years, the school said, and more than 97 percent have jobs or are in graduate school within six months of receiving their diplomas.

The financial aid guarantee also promises full tuition to low-income students who meet certain requirements, such as graduating from high school with a 3.3 grade-point average and qualifying for both Indiana state financial aid and federal Pell grant funds each year.

That means the college about 40 miles west of Fort Wayne will cover the gap between the total financial aid that students receive and their tuition costs with additional grant aid from the school, McFadden said.

Using calculations based on fall 2008 enrollment — in which about 13 percent of the college's students met the low-income criteria — the college would have paid $85,000 to cover the tuition gap for one academic year.

Students who meet the criteria for the guaranteed graduation within four years — which includes not changing their majors — won't have to pay tuition for additional courses required to complete their degree if they don't finish in four years.

Qualifying students who can't find a job or aren't enrolled in a graduate school after graduating can attend a year's worth of classes tuition-free, McFadden said.

"Our objective is to serve our students well enough that nobody has to take advantage of the guarantee," McFadden said.