Butler University Creates 2-Year Debt-Free College Degree to Help Underserved Students

In a groundbreaking move to make higher education more accessible, Butler University in Indianapolis has launched a new program offering a 2-year debt-free college degree for historically underserved students.

This initiative aims to provide opportunities for students from low-income households, and first-generation college students. With individuals from marginalized communities to pursue higher education without the burden of financial constraints.

The program was developed in collaboration with the Come to Believe Network. Is set to empower students by offering affordable pathways to associate and bachelor’s degrees. This article explores the details of Butler University’s innovative program. With its potential impact on students seeking to overcome financial barriers to education.

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The Need for Accessible Higher Education

Butler University’s commitment to expanding access to higher education is deeply rooted in its history. Founded in 1855 by an abolitionist who believed in the importance of education for all. The university aims to fulfill its founder’s vision by providing opportunities beyond the traditional norms of the time.

President James Danko emphasized the university’s dedication to inclusivity, stating. “We were not living out our founder’s dream… That set in motion a lot of conversation and discussion about how you would deliver a degree? What would the type of student look like?”

The Creation of a Debt-Free College Program

To address the financial barriers faced by underserved students, Butler University has developed a two-year debt-free college program. This program enables students to obtain an associate degree without incurring any debt or out-of-pocket expenses.

Upon completion of the associate degree, students have the opportunity to continue their education at Butler University. Earn a bachelor’s degree for a flat rate of $10,000, significantly lower than the regular tuition cost of $44,990.

Partnering with the Come to Believe Network

Butler University’s debt-free college program is the result of a partnership with the Come to Believe Network. A non-profit organization dedicated to creating affordable college programs. The Come to Believe Network has successfully implemented similar initiatives at Loyola University in Chicago and the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, enabling students to pursue higher education without the burden of excessive financial obligations.

Success Stories from Similar Programs

The success of debt-free college programs can be seen through the experiences of students who have benefited from similar initiatives. Carlos Martinez, a special projects manager at the Come to Believe Network. An alumnus of Loyola University’s program highlights the positive impact of such programs beyond financial support.

Martinez shares, “Yes, they did offer great financial support… But what made it was the environment, the people there, the community, how caring everyone is.” Martinez’s experience not only provided him with a debt-free education but also a sense of belonging and support.

Enrollment and Eligibility

Butler University plans to enroll students in the two-year college program starting next year for the Fall 2025 semester. The program will be open to students from low-income households, and first-generation college students. And also individuals who demonstrate a high potential for academic success. Pell Grant-eligible or undocumented students will also have the opportunity to participate in the program, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for a diverse range of students.

Funding and Affordability

Funding for Butler University’s debt-free college program will be sourced from endowments and donations. By leveraging these resources, the university aims to alleviate the financial burden on students. By making higher education more affordable and accessible. The flat rate of $10,000 for a bachelor’s degree provides an affordable option for students who may have otherwise been deterred by the high cost of tuition.

Expanding Opportunities for Underserved Students 2-Year Debt-Free College Degree

The creation of Butler University’s debt-free college program represents a significant step towards expanding opportunities for underserved students. By removing financial barriers, the program enables students from marginalized communities to pursue higher education and improve their future prospects.

Elazia Davison, a senior at Believe Circle City High School, emphasizes the importance of such programs, stating. “When you think about how you’re going to pay for college and how expensive it is… A lot of stress and trauma responses can come up. When you think about all the hard work that goes into having access to these classes. It really shows you that education is important.”

Impact on Affirmative Action

Butler University’s debt-free college program is particularly significant in light of the recent Supreme Court decision. That effectively ended affirmative action at colleges and universities, which had previously benefited students of color in higher education. With this new program, Butler University is taking proactive steps to address the disparities faced by marginalized students and provide equal access to quality education.

Pathways to Success for 2-Year Debt-Free College Degree

The success of 2-debt-free college degree programs can be seen in the outcomes achieved by graduates. At Loyola’s Arrupe College, at least 76% of students are expected to graduate debt-free after completing the program. Similarly, at Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas. Qualifying students had an average out-of-pocket payment of $2,970 for the 2020-2021 school year. These programs not only offer financial support but also foster a sense of community and provide students with the necessary tools and resources to succeed academically.

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Butler University’s creation of a two-year debt-free college program marks a significant milestone. In expanding access to higher education for historically underserved students. By partnering with the Come to Believe Network. Offering affordable pathways to associate and bachelor’s degrees. The university is breaking down financial barriers and empowering students to pursue their educational aspirations.

This initiative aligns with the university’s commitment to inclusivity and its mission to provide education opportunities beyond the limitations of the past. Through this program, Butler University is paving the way for a more equitable and accessible future in higher education.

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