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Wilson College to Help Students Pay Off Loan Debts

Wilson College is the first college in the nation to introduce a student loan buyback program based on academic merit.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Wilson College is the first college in the nation to introduce a student loan buyback program based on academic merit.

Under this new program, which will kick off in 2014, the college will pay off part of a student's Federal Stafford Loan debt if they get good grades.

Officials at Wilson College say this program is part of an effort to increase student enrollment and retention by making higher education more affordable. They say the number one reason students drop out at the college is because of affordability.

It is a struggle senior Katy Sells is all too familiar with. She has taken out three student loans, and says she would have benefited from the buyback plan.

"It’s a really good idea,” said Sells. “Students, they fear getting out of college because they know that as soon as they get out they're going to have debt whether they have a job or not. So to me I think it's also going to push students to have better grades."

For full-time students enrolling next year, the buyback program will be within their reach as long as they can earn a degree in four straight years. They must also be first-time college students to qualify. Award amounts differ based on the student’s GPA:

3.5 to 3.69 GPA                $5,000

3.7 to 3.89 GPA                $7,500

3.9 or higher GPA             $10,000

But how will the college afford this program?

"We’ve started some new programs particularly in the health sciences, and as we bring in more students, that growth will help us afford that reduction in tuition and the loan buyback program," said Wilson College President Barbara Mistick.

The college says the buyback program goes hand in hand with their decisions to go fully co-ed and decrease tuition by 17 percent next year.

"Our students couldn't be more excited about the prospects ahead,” said Mistick. “And I’m excited too. I think this is the right time for Wilson to make these changes."

Students who are part of the loan buyback program are also required to participate in activities and community services that benefit the Wilson College Community.

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