Wilson College Reduces Tuition, Unveils Unique Student Debt Buyback Program

Posted: May 23, 2013

Wilson College is offering prospective students a rare opportunity in the increasingly expensive world of higher education – a chance for students to reduce their debt by up to $10,000 through a unique debt buyback program.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Wilson College is offering prospective students a rare opportunity in the increasingly expensive world of higher education – a chance for students to reduce their debt by up to $10,000 through a unique debt buyback program.

Under Wilson’s student debt buyback plan, among the first of its kind in higher education, the college will pay up to $10,000 toward a student’s federal Stafford Loan debt if the student meets prescribed academic and service requirements. The debt buyback program will be available to students entering in fall 2014. To qualify, students must be a first-time college student and earn a diploma in four years or less of continuous, full-time enrollment at Wilson College.

Wilson’s debt buyback plan, which was drawn from corporate practices, recognizes the need to make college more affordable and creates a strong value proposition for the institution.

“It provides an innovative form of support for Wilson students while serving as a powerful incentive for academic success, service to the community and participation in the life of the campus,” said Dr. Barbara K. Mistick, president. “We want to encourage students to take full advantage of the college experience, while reducing the burden of student debt.”

The debt buyback program was approved by the Wilson College Board of Trustees in January as part of a bold series of measures aimed at rejuvenating the college by significantly increasing enrollment, strengthening programs and facilities, addressing issues of educational cost and value, and ensuring financial sustainability in the future.

In addition to creating the debt buyback plan, Wilson’s trustees voted to reduce tuition by $5,000, or 17 percent, to $23,745 in the 2014-15 academic year. Last fall, the board agreed to freeze tuition for 2013-14 at $28,745 for the third year in a row.

The buyback program will begin with the incoming class in fall 2014, with the first eligible students graduating in spring 2018.

Wilson officials expect the plan to cost up to $100,000 a year, depending on variables. The college will fund the plan through additional the revenue generated by increased enrollments and retention of students participating in the program.

“It’s a proverbial win-win ­­– for both students and the college,” Mistick said. “We are very hopeful that students and parents will see the value in our debt buyback plan and take advantage of it.”

Some specifics of the debt buyback program:

Restricted to Stafford student loans that relate to enrollment at Wilson College. The Stafford loan is the primary federal loan for college students.

Requires a pledge by the student to borrow only what is necessary to meet educational expenses.

Participation in financial literacy programs, being offered to all students in their freshman and senior years.

Restricted to first-time college students who earn a diploma in four years or less of continuous, full-time enrollment at Wilson.

Buyback amounts vary depending on a student’s final grade-point average (GPA), out of a possible 4.0. $5,000 for those with a GPA of 3.5 to 3.69

$7,500 for those with a GPA of 3.7 to 3.89

$10,000 for those with a GPA of 3.9 or higher

To qualify for the debt buyback program, students will also be required to demonstrate active involvement and participation in activities and community services that would benefit the Wilson College community, such as: participating in student government, working with community organizations, tutoring other students, and participating in campus sustainability initiatives.

The plan approved by Wilson’s Board of Trustees in January calls for expanding coeducation at Wilson across all programs. Traditional-age male students are being admitted as commuters for fall 2013. The college will admit male residential students in fall 2014.

Wilson College has been named a “Best Value” college in its region for providing quality academics at an affordable price for 11 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” publication. The college has been ranked one of the best regional colleges for undergraduate education for nine straight years by U.S. News.

Wilson News

As most information about progress on the Wilson Today plan now comes in the form of news and stories, we will use today.wilson.edu as an outlet to share these stories. We will begin by posting all of the stories that have been issued to date, so the posts in the coming weeks will be previously published stories that many alumnae/i, students, faculty and staff may have missed.

Wilson College Athletic Department Announces Program Expansion

Posted: May 22, 2013

The Wilson College athletic department is pleased to announce the addition of men’s volleyball and men’s soccer for the 2015-16 academic year. Both programs will compete in NCAA Division III and the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC).

The two additions are the last piece of the puzzle in the department’s plan to expand opportunities for student-athletes. Next fall, women’s and men’s cross country will be included in Wilson’s varsity sport repertoire. The following year, 2014-15 will see the addition of men’s basketball and men’s golf programs. By 2015, Wilson will offer eleven varsity sports for student-athletes, six women’s and five men’s programs. The expansion also aligns Wilson more closely with the NEAC. The conference provides each team with a full regular season schedule, and the opportunity for post-season play and the chance to compete for the NEAC’s NCAA play-off berth.

The NCAA requires at least five sports for each men and women in coed institutions with enrollment of 1,000 or fewer. This three year expansion plan will make Wilson College compliment with the NCAA regulations.

Wilson President Interviewed on NPR’s ‘Here and ‘Now’

Posted: April 11, 2013

Wilson President Barbara Mistick was recently interviewed for a segment on the national public radio program, “Here and Now.” The program aired on public radio stations around the country on Thursday, April 11.

 If you missed the broadcast, you can listen to or download it by going to http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/04/11/womens-colleges-wilson#comments

and clicking on the story, “What’s Happening to Women’s Colleges?”

“Here and Now,” hosted by Robin Young, originates at Boston’s WBUR radio station. The daily newsmagazine airs on more than 170 radio stations across the country and has a partnership with the BBC.

COLLEGE SPORTS: Wilson College to offer 5 men’s teams



Apr. 8, 2013

Wilson College is about to undergo a serious makeover, and part of that will involve the athletics department.

With the admittance of men this fall to a formerly women’s-only college, Wilson has already made strides in making sure its NCAA eligibility stays intact. The introduction of two men’s sports have already been announced, and more are on the way.

“I think that as our college grows, our enrollment goes up and our number of athletes increase, that should bring additional success and opportunities to all of our programs,” Wilson College athletic director Lori Frey said.

Already under way for male athletes are cross country and men’s basketball programs. But at least three more will be required within the next three years due to NCAA criteria.

Wilson was an NCAA-sanctioned school (Division III) while it was a women’s-only institution because the governing body requires at least five sports. To remain sanctioned when men arrive, Wilson is required to offer at least five to the newcomers as well.

Wilson is in the process of submitting a waiver request to the NCAA to allow the college three years to fulfill the criteria, but not lose its eligibility during that time.

“We know that it will take time to get those men’s programs up and running, and I think the NCAA recognizes that as well,” Frey said. “They have a process in place where transitioning institutions can request a waiver of requirement and still be eligible for championships and voting rights.”

The current plan is to add cross country for this fall, while men’s basketball will have to wait until the winter of 2014-15. Also coming in 2014 will likely be men’s golf, which will serve as a spring sport – another of the NCAA’s requirements is to have a sport available during each season. The other two sports have a timeline of two years, but they have not been settled upon.

Frey said she has been making recommendations to the board and cabinet of the college about which sports to offer, and together, the Wilson administration will come to a decision. The official plan must be presented to the NCAA before Wilson begins its fall semester.

The cross country program is in an especially interesting position. It is not only new to men – it is just simply new.

With the elimination of gymnastics, Wilson faced the issue of having to add another women’s sport, as well. Cross country was the answer.

“This is my first experience as a head coach, so it’s definitely an exciting time to be given the opportunity to not only start my first-ever cross country program, but it’s the first-ever for Wilson, too,” coach Joanna Hayes said. “I think we’re going to have to be patient the first year or two, and it’s going to be a little bit challenging at first.”

Hayes has quite a bit of experience with cross country; she has been involved with the sport since her junior year of high school. From there, she ran at Kutztown University, where she majored in sports management. Upon graduating in 2009, she took a job at Dickinson College in track & field, then became an assistant track & field coach at Gettysburg College in the summer of 2011. Hayes has about five months to build her program from the ground up, and she said her biggest strategies right now have been to reach out to current Wilson students in hopes of recruiting some, as well as spending time on recruiting websites to find outside participants.

“It’s definitely a challenge because there isn’t a whole lot of time,” Hayes said. “I plan to work with what I have come the fall, then really start working on the 2014 class.”

Because Wilson men will not be able to live on campus in the first year – living accommodations are still in the works – the only males will be commuters. Hayes said to get around that, she plans to communicate with local high school coaches and see if they have any runners who may be interested in running and studying at Wilson.

“That’s probably my best bet in terms of getting runners, because it’s going to be pretty challenging with them having to be somewhat close,” Hayes said. “Just word of mouth is going to be another big approach.” The men’s basketball program is going to be in a whole different boat because it will not be tipping off until 2014-15.

“Cross country is considered an individual sport, so even if we have one runner, we can take them to competitions,” Frey said. “For men’s basketball, it’ll take (the coach) a year to recruit a team. When you’re starting from scratch, you need the time to successfully bring in the athletes.”

Miles Smith Jr. has been hired as the men’s basketball coach and will also serve as Wilson’s admissions recruiter.

Smith has previously coached at Mercer County (N.J.) Community College, where his team won its conference championship and went on to the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament. “From then, I knew that I would be in coaching for the remainder of my life,” Smith said. “I had an excellent time educating kids not about just basketball but life in general.”

He has also spent time as an assistant at the College of New Jersey before being hired at Wilson.

Smith plans to use the connections he already has, as well as his coaching philosophies, to build a successful program. Smith said he uses a Princeton-style offense that stresses teamwork and sharing the ball. “I think one of the positives about it is I’ll be able to bring in the guys that I recruited from 1 to 15,” Smith said, “so I’ll have a bit of a relationship with all the guys before I get there. The other thing going into it is being able to play the style of play I want with guys who want to work hard both on and off the court.”

Smith said his biggest challenge will be getting players to come to a brand-new program. Many kids dream of playing at a school rich with tradition and success, whereas Wilson is something new.

“On the flip side, though, they get the opportunity to start their own history,” Smith said.

Upon arriving in Chambersburg, Smith said he also hopes to get acquainted with local basketball coaches and others in the community who may be able to help in the recruiting process. He also plans to recruit from places such as Philadelphia, where he already has connections and basketball contacts.

The change for Wilson is certainly going to be a large undertaking, but it may benefit more than just the men who plan to become part of the Phoenix.

Frey said, “From an athletic standpoint, other athletic directors who have gone through this process have indicated that what they found when their institution went co-ed was more female athletes became interested in their college than female athletes who were interested in women’s-only colleges. They’re indicating to me that recruiting will become more effective and easier for our women’s programs.”

Although Wilson is obviously a college rich in tradition of being only for women – it was founded in 1869 as a one-gender institution – Frey said she plans to put as much energy into the new men’s programs as she has and still will for the women.

“As an athletic director, my goal will be to treat all of our athletes and all of our programs equally,” Frey said. “In terms of giving attention to programs, I will very carefully be sure that there is equality, having been here during the time when only our female athletes were getting recognized.”

Phoenix rising

Cross country: A new program for both men and women will begin this fall, coached by Joanna Hayes.

Men’s basketball: New head coach Miles Smith Jr. will have some time to recruit a basketball squad, which will start playing in the winter of 2014-15.

Still to come: The creation of a men’s golf program is in the works and will hopefully begin in the spring of 2014.

More planning: Wilson College is still in the process of deciding the last 2 men’s sports, which will be added over the course of the next 3 academic years.