Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

College Flunks Four Times; Eliminates Tuition

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What if you didn’t have to pay college tuition? There were no tedious scholarship applications to fill out. And, you knew Sallie Mae wouldn’t be breathing down your neck when you graduate.

It’s not a pipe dream for students enrolled at Antioch College. They don’t have to pay a dime for tuition.

The unaccredited four-year private liberal arts college, about 30 minutes from Dayton, Ohio, is trying to resurrect itself.  It reopened last year after financial problems forced it to suspend operations in 2008. To attract students, Antioch has eliminated the $26,500 annual tuition for at least the next three years.

“Antioch is ranked high, but was never financially secure. It never placed particular emphasis on money,” said Mark Roosevelt, Antioch College president.

He’s not exaggerating. The college, whose notable alumni include Coretta Scott King and 2007 Nobel Laureate Mario Capecchi, has closed four times since 1858.

Antioch’s renaissance is coming as most higher learning institutions are hiking tuition and students are trying to find a less expensive way to pay for their education. It has created a perfect storm for Antioch.

Roosevelt said there are about 2500 applicants for next year’s class. They’re competing for just 75 spots.

Rachael Smith is a member of the current freshman class at Antioch.

“Antioch has a great reputation despite having closed multiple times,” said Smith. “Tuition was a big part of why I chose Antioch… People are paying back their college loans their whole life right now.”

That includes social worker Amy Alster. The New Jersey resident regrets attending the University of Maryland. More than a decade later, she still owes nearly $60,000 dollars in student loans.

"It was the biggest mistake. The student loan company is now threatening to garnish my wages after finally finding a job for the first time in two years," said Alster. "It was a total waste of money."

Alster said if she had to do it all over again, she would have definitely considered taking a chance on a school such as Antioch. A quick note. We did our homework.  Antioch didn’t waive all fees. Students are still on the hook for room and board.  The college charges $9,000 a year. But, no word on the drink specials in town.

Stephanie is Squawk Box producer. Follow her on twitter @StephLandsman

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