Working the system
opportunities for free tuition
Many students face the harsh reality of accumulating student loans. But for some, there are programs that make attending college cheaper or even free.
Tuition exchange and tuition remission programs are available to the children of Linfield College employees.
The tuition exchange program, now in its 56th year, boasts a membership of more than 600 colleges and universities in the nation. Dependents of Linfield employees have the opportunity to apply for tuition exchange at any of the participating schools they wish to attend.
“Sometimes students get into the school and not the exchange and are waitlisted,” Dan Preston, dean of enrollment services, said. “It is considered a scholarship and is competitive.”
It is called an exchange because Linfield must keep a comparable balance in the amount of students it exchanges to the amount of other schools’ dependents it enrolls. Linfield, classified by the program as a high-tuition school, is required to cover a specific amount of the tuition and can give more money to students.
Preston said this year’s set amount for Linfield’s tuition exchange is $25,000, just $390 short of Linfield’s current tuition. Students who come to Linfield on exchange are required to pay the remaining amount of tuition, student body fees, room and board and other expenses such as January Term.
Tami Harrell, office coordinator for career and learning support services, has a daughter in the tuition exchange program. She attends Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont. Harrell said Rocky Mountain offered her daughter tuition exchange, as well as free room and board.
She said some schools offer better exchange packages than others to encourage staff participation in the program. She believes this is a wonderful benefit to have as a staff member.
“(I told my kids) use it now or lose it,” Harrell said. “They know the importance of a college education.”
Juniors Jennifer and Alex Maxson are using a different method to pay for their tuition. As the daughters of a Stanford University employee, they are entitled to either free tuition at Stanford, or half of Stanford’s tuition at any school of their choice. Every time the tuition cost atStanford rises, the amount of money they get to cover their Linfield tuition rises.
“It really helps (parents) when you have twins going to college,” Jennifer Maxson said.
For children of Linfield employees, once they are accepted to Linfield, the entire cost of tuition is waived. Other costs, outside of the yearly tuition, are not covered. Students eligible for remission are not eligible for any Linfield scholarships or grants, but can receive federal and state aid.
Preston said the amount of tuition given depends on the employee’s full time employment percentage, or FTE. If a staff member is employed full time, their dependents can have their full tuition waived. If they are employed part time, the discount applies to half of the tuition.
The school accounts for the absence of tuition from these students as part of the employee benefits package. Preston compared the budgeting of the system to that of health benefits.
“We project how much it is going to be and then try to adjust it when we find out how much it really is,” Preston said.
Preston tries to identify which children of employees are considering attending Linfield fairly early in the budgeting process, so he can make an accurate projection.
Junior Tiffany Cook, whose mother is employed by Linfield, receives free tuition. Cook said she considered participating in the tuition exchange program, but decided there was too much probability involved.
She said at first she wasn’t fond of the idea of going to college in the same town she was born and raised, but now she appreciates the free tuition.
“I like the feeling of being out on my own,” Cook said. “I have to pay for (housing) out of pocket, but it’s worth the money.”
However, students receiving free tuition the first semester of freshman year do not have priority for housing. Many of these students are informed merely a week or two before the start of their first semester if they are placed in campus housing. After the first semester, they are subject to the same per-credit housing placement as all other students.
Learning for free
Employees and their families can take classes at Linfield without pursuing a degree. Preston said those who participate are considered non-degree students and can build a transcript without applying for admission to Linfield.
Those eligible can take up to 30 credits on campus or through the Division of Continuing Education.