Wabash College provides a transformative educational experience, unsurpassed opportunities, and an extensive support network for young men of promise, regardless of their financial circumstances. Our commitment to changing the lives of all young men of promise and our special allegiance to the state of Indiana are timeless.

Most people in Indiana are not aware Wabash spends more than $52,000 to educate each student and that nearly every enrolled student receives some form of aid.

We pledge to be radically transparent in our financial aid process to cut through the confusion and misconceptions around financing college.

Today we announce three specific actions toward this goal:

  1. Establishing the Wabash Promise whereby academically qualified Pell Grant recipients from Indiana will receive need-based grants to cover the balance of all tuition and fees not covered by government grants.
  2. Committing that academically qualified Indiana students from middle-income families (with adjusted gross incomes up to $100,000) will receive need-based grants to lower the Wabash tuition to the equivalent of published tuition and fees at the state’s flagship university.
  3. Publishing our generous merit aid schedule on our web site so families can immediately access details about Wabash’s scholarship levels corresponding to their son’s high school GPA and SAT/ACT score (scholarships ranging from $15,000 per year up to full tuition).

We can do this because of the generosity of our alumni and their spouses and families. Our graduates demonstrate profound appreciation for the education they received at Wabash.

As the liberal arts college for men, we focus on a holistic education that develops both intellect and character, but we are keenly aware for many of our students, college is a mechanism for economic advancement. We take great pride in enrolling freshman classes that represent the profile of Indiana and our country. Roughly one-third of our students are Pell Grant recipients, and about 40 percent are first-generation college students.

The Equality of Opportunity project researched the earnings of students 10 years after graduating from college and compared that data to the students’ family incomes upon entering college, providing quantitative measures of economic advancement from a college education.

That data, featured last year in The New York Times, demonstrates that some colleges, including Wabash, are dramatically more successful in moving students up the income ladder. Nearly three-quarters of the students who entered Wabash from families in the bottom 40th percentile of the income distribution had risen to the top 40th percentile at age 35.

Public discourse on higher education is focused on cost, student loan debt and the value of a college education. These conversations neglect that a college education is also a key step on the path to a rewarding life.

It is especially damaging to students from low-income families who may not realize that they can afford an elite education provided by a number of colleges, like Wabash, which provide generous financial aid.

At Wabash, a superior education is available to students of promise at a reasonable cost. Our commitment is a simple demonstration of this principle.

Our sticker price reflects our cost to educate each student. Our transparency champions the fact that the cost to families is simple and fair, and that the dream of an elite education is within reach.

Gregory Hess is president of Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. The opinions are the writer's.

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