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'Pay it forward' program would provide free tuition for Hope College students

A new “pay it forward” approach will be footing the bill for their students, with the program beginning in part at the start of this school year.

HOLLAND, Michigan — Hope College has announced a new funding model that will eliminate tuition for its students, the school announced Tuesday. The idea, called “Hope Forward,” will be introduced in part this upcoming school year.

The initiative was first presented by Hope President Matthew Scogin in 2019 at his inauguration. Since then, the college has raised $31.1 million toward its implementation. The program was unanimously approved by Hope’s Board of Trustees at the start of this year.

“We’re excited to be pursuing a new model for funding higher education,” Scogin said.

“Rather than require students to pay for their education in advance, through what is too often a transactional relationship, we are working toward a funding model based on the biblical principles of generosity and gratitude.”

The funding model will allow students to attend Hope tuition-free, with endowed funds paying their way. After students graduate, they will be asked to donate to that same fund.

Adding donations to the endowment will allow future students to have the same, free higher education experience as they did.

“Once it’s implemented, students will receive a transformational education, for which others have paid. Then, when they are graduates, we will ask them — out of gratitude for what they’ve received — to be generous in response by investing in future generations of students,” Scogin explained.

Hope administration calls the model a “pay it forward” approach.

The college will launch a pilot of the program this fall with a group of 22 incoming Hope students. Tuition for these students is funded by an anonymous donor.

In the future, the college plans to increase their endowment fund by $1 billion, which would pay for 100% of their students’ tuition.

Administration says the program is based on three pillars: accessibility, generosity and community.

“By eliminating the need for students to finance their education up front, we’re pursuing a number of goals as a college community,” Scogin said.

“This vision will take many years to see to fruition, but the journey starts now and we are encouraged by early momentum.”

Scogin will speak about the new initiative at a media briefing on Wednesday; more details are expected to come then.

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