According to americanprogress.org, over 40 million adults in America owe over a trillion dollars in federal student loans. For one college in Western North Dakota, nearly half of its students won’t have that burden, once they graduate.
The semester is underway at Williston State College and for some, they are attending classes for free.
The first tuition program that we had for students goes back to 2015. It was based on an endowment, and was for supporting Williams County students.” says Dr. Miller, president of the college.
Since then, the incentive has expanded. With four different scholarships, free tuition is offered to students in mostly all of Northern North Dakota, North Eastern Montana, and even some parts of Canada. The only cost to students are books, and room and board. But there’s even a scholarship for that.
The president adds, “Probably close to two-thirds of our students fall under the umbrella of one of those four scholarship programs right now. It really ends up being a pretty good deal.”
One of those students who fall under the umbrella is Morgan Stebbins. A freshman from Watford City, she says at first she was leery about attending WSC, but the deal was just too good to pass up.
“I was focused on another college and my parents were like you should try out Williston, like kind of edging me. I was like uh I don’t know, but then after considering how much cost was everywhere else. I’m like I’m going to go here.” says Morgan.
Studying nursing at the college, she says she is glad she took the opportunity, and that it is available to others as well.
She adds, “It just kind of warms my heart, because I see a lot of kids and this is their only option. Coming from foster care or whatnot, and this college offers so many scholarships besides the regional scholarship, that we should just feel so grateful because other than this we would be spending so much money on our first two years.”
In three years, Morgan will be walking across the stage with a degree in nursing, and most importantly, debt-free.