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Adrian College Promises to Pay Student Loans for Some Graduates

A small private college in Michigan is trying to ease the cost concerns of prospective students with a guarantee that they won’t graduate overburdened with student-loan debt. Starting next year, Adrian College will guarantee incoming students that if, upon graduation, they are employed and earning less than $37,500 a year, the college will make some or all of their student-loan payments.

The plan calls for Adrian graduates who earn less than $20,000 a year after graduation to have all of their student-loan payments made by the college. Those earning more than $20,000 but less than $37,500 a year will have their loans paid on a sliding scale. Students who transfer to Adrian with at least two years left in their education will also be eligible. Unemployed graduates will not be eligible, but students who go on to graduate school will still be eligible once they complete their degrees.

Jeffrey R. Docking, president of the college, said the guarantee’s aim was to get prospective students to look beyond the institution’s “sticker price.” The total cost of attending Adrian College is $39,996, according to its Web site. But, for an average student, that price is cut in half by institutional aid, said Jerry Wright, the college’s vice president for business affairs. Nonetheless, money shouldn’t be the reason for students to abandon a private education, Mr. Docking said.

AdrianPlus, as the program is known, will cost the college roughly $620,000 in the first year, and, eventually, four times that amount each year, Mr. Docking said. To offset the cost of the guarantee, the college will have to increase enrollment by about 50 students next year, Mr. Wright said. Enrollment currently stands at about 1,700 students.

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