Grace College in Winona Lake says a college affordability plan it unveiled several years ago is paying off with increased enrollment numbers and decreased student debt. Launched as "Re-Imagine Grace" during the recession in 2008-2009, the effort involved new campuses and the ability for students to earn any degree in three years. Last year, the college reduced tuition by nine percent and began offering free book rentals as part of its "Measure of Grace" program. President Bill Katip says "we’ve been amazed" at the reaction to the measures, which have resulted in growing numbers of new students.
Katip says from 2008-2009, new student enrollment at Grace college decreased from 350 to 290, which is a significant drop for what was then a 1,500-student school. He says high costs discouraged many prospective students from enrolling. He says the college began focusing on "faith-based affordability," which included the effort to allow students to graduate more quickly. In addition, a new campus in Indianapolis, which currently serves about 80 students, increased access to the school.
In September, Grace College reported record enrollment for the fourth consecutive academic year. More than 2,300 students were enrolled in 2015, which was a 5.4 percent increase over the previous year. At the time, the school said the growth was largely driven by a doubling in online bachelor’s and master’s program enrollment.
The school is also benefiting from its location in Kosciusko County, the orthopedics capital of the world. Katip says the college developed its Master’s program in clinical and regulatory affairs in partnership with local industry leaders. Those efforts, he says, are paying off in employment opportunities. Katip estimates the newly-combined Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc. (NYSE: ZBH) employs around 130 Grace College graduates.