McPherson College continued the upward enrollment trend established over the past eight years by welcoming the class of 2026 to campus on August 24 for the start of fall semester classes. Over 60% of all students starting the new academic year are enrolled in the college’s Student Debt Project.
Now in its fourth year, the Debt Project offers McPherson College students the opportunity to reduce their student loans by combining financial literacy education, mentorship and work ethic while building life skills and values. personal responsibility, autonomy and financial well-being. Along with matching funds and a pay-as-you-go option, the program pairs students with mentors to answer financial questions. This year, more than 60 college alumni and friends from across the country serve as mentors to individuals and small groups of students in the program. Students also gain leadership skills by serving as peer mentors for each of the mentoring groups.
So far, students participating in the program have reduced their projected debt upon graduation by nearly $12,000 while maintaining an above-average GPA of 3.3 for working students. The average graduation debt for the Class of 2022 was $16,700, one of the lowest among four-year colleges and universities in Kansas. At the end of the 2021-2022 academic year, nearly 30% of Debt Project students reported no debt, and nearly 30% reported less than $2,000 in debt. And 93% of students who participate in the debt relief program return to McPherson College to complete their studies.
“The Debt Project was an idea that evolved from our Community by Design strategic plan,” said Michael Schneider, president of McPherson College. “It is gratifying for our campus to see the positive impact it has on our students. Especially our graduates who leave here with less debt on average than students at other institutions and start their post-graduation life in good financial health.
Cheneal Benne, who has been in the program for three years, said, “The biggest benefit I get is definitely the matching funds. This has been my motivation to be smart about my spending habits.
The Student Debt Project is just one way to gain valuable career experience. The majority of students at McPherson College work in part-time jobs or internships which, when combined with a career-oriented program, give them an edge as they enter the workforce. By early May, two-thirds of the graduating class had secured employment, military service, or post-graduation placement. This is three times the national average. After six months, 95% of McPherson College graduates are employed or accepted into graduate school.
“The Student Debt Project, along with our focus on experiential learning, gives our students a head start when they join the competitive job market or apply for graduate school,” said Amy Beckman, executive director of the Career and Experiential Learning Office. “McPherson College students are eager to enter the workforce to gain valuable experience for their future careers.
Learn more about campus resources or become an employer partner at the Office of Professional and Experiential Learning.