Update on The 2015 Big Idea: Reducing College Student Debt

Update on The 2015 Big Idea: Reducing College Student Debt

Last year I shared that my big idea for 2015 was to put a dent in college student debt. We have made a small beginning.

This past fall, 45 students became our test group for the Trevecca iWork program. To date, we are retaining all of them into the spring semester and they have paid $61,000 on their college bills as a group. In addition, each student has received basic training in workplace habits. All of our supervisors have been trained to mentor students toward workplace success. We will be adding more students to the test group this semester before aiming at 200 jobs this fall. We have companies lined up to provide jobs for our students.

If you recall, the thought is to reduce college student debt by $16,000 across the 4 years through 10 hours a week of work. Research suggests that students who work an average of 10 hours a week actually perform better in the classroom. Working more than 15 hours a week takes grades down. As the student moves through the four-year iWork program, we seek to move them closer to their desired field of work. Accountability is part of the program. If they demonstrate success at one level, they are entrusted with work at the next level.

College student debt is a moral issue for me. Federal aid is structured in a way that will not allow us to limit the loans a student can take to attend college. As a result, many students (and their families) borrow the maximum amount and bloat their debt far beyond what it costs to go to college. My hope is that the government will someday cap borrowing at the cost of the college experience. This will keep us from being blamed for high student debt when we have no control over it. It pains me to see a student use a college for items other than school tuition and expenses—a car, an XBox, or a hover board, for example—and then a college get blasted for a student’s debt being so high.

My goal is to help students understand the long-term implications of debt, to put their own sweat into the cost of college, to become proficient in the workplace during college, and to prove over a lifetime of earning that college graduates repay the cost of college many times over. I remain convinced that a college education is the path to a life of strong earnings. But this is not the primary reason we exist. We are giving the world better citizens, better thinkers and creators, and better community builders. And through our Christian colleges, we are offering the world a redemptive option for the future.


  1. Well spoken, Dan!

  2. A worth while program. The student will appreciate his/her education more if they work to earn it.

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