Kentucky college offers free last term to boost retention rate

January 21, 2013

For Christmas, freshmen at Kentucky's Union College received the following gift: the promise of a tuition-free final term for those who earned good marks and got involved in campus life. To qualify for the free semester, students must participate in designated "Inaugural Class" events, partake in at least one extracurricular activity, remain enrolled full-time, perform at least 75 hours of community service, and maintain a GPA of at least 3.5. The initiative is designed to increase retention, with which Union has long struggled -- on average, just half of the first-year class, which starts at around 240 students, returns for a second year. The "Inaugural Class" program is meant to inspire students and professors to make the most of each student's time at the college. Union's president hopes the program will send the message to faculty members that student success -- and graduation -- is the top priority. Inside Higher Ed