Employers are being sought for a new partnership with Calvary Bible College to help students graduate with less school debt.
Belton Regional Medical Center and the Hy-Vee store in Belton have already signed on to support Calvary students by providing jobs to students through the college’s new Study and Work Program.
The concept is being patterned after the College of the Ozarks’ work-study program in southwest Missouri, where students work part time to cover tuition expenses. It is designed to reduce dependence of federal student aid and minimizing student loan debt.
The quicker students pay off their student loans, said Program Director Tim Heckart, the sooner they can enter the ministry.
Nationally, the average student’s college debt is more than $28,000, he said, and it takes about 18.3 years to repay the average student loan.
“You can’t go out on the mission field if you’re tied to that kind of debt,” he said.
Calvary, located on the former Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, announced the program to its students last month at a chapel service.
“The goal is to have students come here, learn, graduate, and then go out and serve in the world to make an impact for Christ,” Heckart said. “It’s very difficult to move from graduation to serving when you’re tied down, shackled, to student debt.”
At a Belton Chamber of Commerce meeting last week, Hy-Vee store director Brenda Slivinski talked about the opportunities for area employers to utilize Calvary students through the new program.
She already looks for Calvary students in her hiring process, and said it would make her happy to help students graduate with little to no school debt.
“I have had really good success with Calvary students in the past. They’re conscientious, intelligent and they work hard,” Slivinski said. “I’ve hired Calvary students for years. I seek them out.”
Todd Krass, CEO of Belton Regional Medical Center, is also planning to hire Calvary students.
“The interest I have is in the caliber of the individuals already going to Calvary Bible College,” Krass said. “They’re in alignment of our mission. I often view the work we do in health care as a spiritual mission in that the work we do makes a difference in people’s lives.”
Krass said it’s also important for him to help people who are driven to further their education.
“(Students) need to have the financial support to continue with their education, so we’re very willing to engage this group and have them,” he said. “We have a variety of positions here at the hospital from front office reception, food service, environmental service to patient care tech.”
Heckart’s role will include helping students find on-campus job opportunities and making connections to employers.
Participating students will work about 15 hours a week, for 15 weeks, each semester. Students working off-campus may work additional hours.
The money earned through a paycheck will then be deposited into the student’s account.
Students may also be eligible to receive a Study and Work Program scholarship and federal Pell Grant funding to help cover the remaining cost of their tuition.
Students will be required to maintain a 2.5 GPA, complete the FAFSA annually, and be enrolled at least 14 credit hours per semester to participate in the program.
New students must have a minimum ACT score of 19 or an SAT of 910, and current students cannot be on academic probation.