Pioneer Pledge aims for graduation in four years

by Molly Crain
News Editor

In his most recent university address, President R. Owen Williams declared the installation of the new four-year graduation plan, the Pioneer Pledge.

Openly being advertised by the Transylvania admissions office, the Pioneer Pledge seeks to “make a high quality liberal arts education affordable for all students,” according to the pledge pamphlet.

Currently, Transylvania’s admissions fees are below the national average for liberal arts colleges, with most students eligible for scholarships and financial aid. The admissions office is proud to announce that Transy now offers an “innovative affordability plan.”

Consisting of three new strategies from the new strategic enrollment plan, the Pioneer Pledge aims to target only incoming first-year students.

The plan includes “guaranteed graduation in four years, a 12-month payment plan and a level tuition program, which locks in your tuition rate for four years,” according to admissions.

“We did it, one, for certainty,” said Dean of Admissions Brad Goan, who has been helping to determine the logistics of the Pioneer Pledge. “What is the biggest problem in the economy right now? Uncertainty.”

Compared to other universities, 90 percent of Transylvania graduates complete their degrees in four years or less, while 40 percent of students do so nationally, according to U.S. News and World Report. An impressive statistic, Transylvania admissions want this number to increase.

In order to graduate in four years, the Pioneer Pledge asks that students “enroll for eight consecutive terms, take a full course load each term, meet the universities required progress goals and declare a major by the end of your sophomore year.”

If a student who has signed the pledge has met these criteria, and still isn’t able to graduate in four years, “we will cover the cost of tuition while you complete your degree,” the pamphlet states.

“What we have found is that if students have done all of those three things, all of them have graduated in four years, … and that has considerable appeal when the average graduation time for a student is up to five and a half years,” said Goan. “We are just trying to get you here so you can have a great Transy experience, and then what’s the next step? We want to help you get there.”

An optional 12-month payment plan is also available to incoming students through the Pioneer Pledge, in which they have the option to pay the net balance of tuition, fees and room and board charges over 12 equal monthly payments. Before the update of the pledge, the payment plan was over the course of 10 months.

“It’s more consistent with what other schools (like Centre College) are doing,” said Goan.

The most innovative portion of the pledge is the level tuition option, which allows students to “lock in a set tuition rate for four consecutive academic years,” according to admissions.

Due to fluctuating tuition costs, this is another strategy used to reinforce certainty for new students.

“Based on our research, about 15 schools in the country are doing it,” said Goan.

Students who choose the option will pay $1,600 in addition to standard tuition for their first year. However, they are given the promise that they will pay the same tuition rate for the following three years they are at Transy.

“That’s an opportunity for students to pay the premium … (and) essentially tack on an amount,” said Goan.

Knowing that tuition rates have the possibility to increase while getting your degree, this plan is hoping to give students and parents some comfort.

“Over the course of four years, students will pay slightly less than they would have if they didn’t do the four-year plan,” Goan said.

For this year, Transylvania’s tuition rate, without scholarships and financial aid, is $28,250.

“The plan has been really well received by parents,” said Goan. “I think that the things that we have in this pledge are an attempt to see them where they are. College is a big financial investigation. We want to do everything we can do to make this experience possible for them.”

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