Juniata college, nestled in scenic central Pennsylvania, happens to be my wife’s alma mater. You may have heard me talk about it recently, although I didn’t mention it by name, when I gave out our year-end donation amounts. This time, though, Juniata has announced something big enough for me to mention them by name: Their “A great education, within reach” campaign.
Here is the press release straight from Juniata. Here’s the skinny: If you don’t graduate within four years, the fifth year tuition is free. Here’s some stipulations:
The four-year guarantee comes with a laundry list of conditions: It only applies to domestic freshmen, not international or transfer students; it doesn’t include room and board; and it requires students to maintain “qualitative academic progress” and complete an average of 30 credit hours per year.
Why is Juniata doing this? Is it a PR stunt? Do they really trust their program that much? Well, let’s look at costs for a year at Juniata versus Penn State, which is a relatively short drive away:
Juniata: $36,000 per year (incl. room and board), or $28,920 with just tuition
Penn State: $13,000 per year (incl. room and board), no figures on just tuition
Granted, Juniata students receive a lot of financial aid, but going to Penn State for a third of the price IS very enticing, isn’t it? But let’s look at the graduation figures:
Juniata: Average of 92% graduate within 4 years (96% for the class of 2006)
Pennsylvania “state schools”: 27% (no figures on specifically Penn State, but they are a state-funded school)
Obviously Juniata has the numbers to support its plan to guarantee that students graduate within 4 years, but they admit it is mostly a way to attract attention to the school when so many locals overlook it due to the high cost. Honestly, and I’ll speak more on this separately, I graduated in 5 years from Penn State with student loans of about $20,000, while Stacie graduated from Juniata with the same debt in just 4 years. Goes to show that state schools aren’t always cheaper than private colleges! Oh, and guess whose events we attend multiple times per year….nope, not Penn State’s 🙂