FEATURES • Spring 2001
Kate Kelly (left), a first-year student in Arts & Sciences, and Rachel Goodman, a junior studying mathematics in Arts & Sciences, are two students whose parents participate in the Partners in Education with Parents (PEP) program.

By Teresa A. Nappier

Ryan Hornbeck of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, is an Arts & Sciences sophomore. A pre-med student, Hornbeck takes his education seriously. He and his stepfather and mother, Ronald and Linda Armbruster, have chosen to take part in the Partners in Education with Parents (PEP) financing program at the University.

"This gives Ryan the opportunity to participate in the repayment of his education after he gets out of college," says Ronald Armbruster. "I am in the real estate business and am very specific about going over numbers so that Ryan understands them and feels good about the commitment. In fact, his mother told me today that Ryan has it calculated out to how much each class hour costs—so he never misses a class."

Rachel Goodman is a junior in Arts & Sciences majoring in mathematics. Rachel's parents, Roberta and Joel Goodman, from Carrollton, Texas, also participate in the PEP program—the assistance allows the Goodmans to send Rachel to the University.

"I teach piano, and those in the PEP office, especially Kathleen Ems [loan coordinator, Student Financial Services], were very nice in making special arrangements when my income temporarily dropped, especially when my piano students all went on summer vacations at the same time," says Roberta Goodman. "And when we've had changes in financial aid, the University has renegotiated the loan each time, and always with good spirit."

Helping make a family's dream—of their child attending Washington University and receiving a high-quality undergraduate education—a reality is the goal of the Partners in Education with Parents program. PEP's pioneering roster of personalized financing options includes a multi-year option, a new annual option, and a prepayment option. The financing is provided by Washington University.

With the PEP multi-year option, the borrower freezes up to four years of charges at the first-year rate, which helps protect a family from cost increases in future years. The interest rate on the loan is fixed, and the borrower has 10 years to repay. Furthermore, there are no origination or other hidden fees. The PEP annual option allows parents to borrow the cost of tuition, fees, room, and board one year at a time. This loan program fixes the rate of interest at more than a full percentage point less than the federal variable rate, and there is also a 10-year repayment period. And with the PEP prepayment option, parents can freeze up to four years of charges at the first-year rate by prepaying the entire amount or by combining a partial prepayment with a borrowing plan.

Walter Kelly of Englewood, Colorado, is another parent working with the University to finance his child's education; the PEP program allows him to send his daughter, Kate, a first-year student in Arts & Sciences, to WU with less strain on family finances.

"I selected the multi-year option, and this allows me not to have to use all of my capital," says Walter Kelly. "Higher education is a big-ticket item, and, unfortunately, I did not qualify for any assistance. It looked to me as if this [multi-year option] was a really great deal."

Washington University has been at the forefront of creating innovative financing options for families. In 1978, the University created the Tuition Stabilization Plan (TSP), which was the first of its kind in the country and is still a model for other plans. TSP's essential feature was allowing parents to pay upfront for all four years of undergraduate tuition, at the first-year tuition rate. In 1986, the University transformed TSP into the Cost Stabilization Plan (CSP), which also allowed for borrowing the cost of room and board and made the plan available to those receiving financial aid. The financing program was renamed the Cost Advantage Plan (CAP) in 1991. Last year, the University repackaged the program into Partners in Education with Parents (PEP).

The best part of PEP, however, is that Washington University is the lender, and parents have the convenience of dealing directly with knowledgeable, caring professionals in the University's Office of Student Financial Services.

Bill Witbrodt, director of Student Financial Services, speaks to the program's specialness. "Parents would have a difficult time finding a financing product that has as low an interest rate as ours. Another attractive feature is that there are no other fees connected with this loan," he says. "Furthermore, over the life of the loan, the parent contact is with Washington University, so we're able to work closely with parents. We have the flexibility to help the parents if unexpected financial situations and challenges occur."

Ben Sandler, special assistant to the chancellor, says that the PEP program completes the opportunities for helping parents that started in 1978 with the Tuition Stabilization Plan.

"An element that was missing from the previous plans was the opportunity to borrow one year at a time with a low, fixed interest rate," says Sandler. "Some banks allow parents to borrow one year at a time, but not with the same advantages offered by the University. No bank—and no other college or university that we know of—provides this opportunity at an interest rate that's as low as ours, that's fixed, and that charges no fees. This program sets us apart."

The PEP program came about through the efforts of many people at the University, from those in the offices of Admissions, Financial Planning, Student Financial Services, and the Treasury. Amy Kweskin, treasurer, is part of the team that helps set the loan's interest rate, as well as reviews the entire program on an annual basis to see how the program is doing from a financial and marketing perspective. She says, "Internally, there was a great team effort to put together this program, and externally, it shows the University's commitment to parents and students—that it is possible to afford the best education."

Connie Kraus, assistant treasurer, helped coordinate the development of the product—including teaching, along with Ems and Kweskin, WU employees about the new annual option. Kraus says the new program shows that the University is always willing to adjust its financing options to meet the needs of parents.

And this willingness helps parents and students—like Rachel Goodman, Ryan Hornbeck, and Kate Kelly—afford a premier education.

Roberta Goodman says, "Rachel only wanted to go to Washington U.; it was the only place she applied ... and we wouldn't have been able to do it otherwise."

Teresa A. Nappier is the editor of this magazine.

For more information on Partners in Education with Parents, please visit: aisweb.wustl.edu/sfs/home.nsf/pages/pepinfo. Or e-mail the Office of Student Financial Services: financial@wustl.edu.

 

 




Name That Scholar

In the scholars-in-the-schools program, many generous donors help Washington University students afford the best education by sponsoring named scholarships.

Caitlin Sweeney, a senior biomedical engineering major,

For Caitlin Sweeney, a named scholarship has helped her afford a Washington University education.

"I am very relieved to have it [the Robert L. Mullenger Scholarship]. ... It has enabled me to seek other opportunities and to pursue engineering at Washington University," says Sweeney. "And it has inspired me to do the same [sponsor a scholarship] once I am in the right financial position when I get older."

During the 1999-2000 academic year, 1,444 Washington University students received named scholarships. The scholars-in-the-schools program started some 27 years ago in the School of Engineering & Applied Science and is now a component of all eight schools at the University. In this program, individuals, companies, and other organizations sponsor promising students who want a high-quality WU education. Each year, students not only receive financial assistance, most have the opportunity to meet their sponsors at annual scholarship dinners. Many students also stay connected with their sponsors throughout the year via e-mail communication and phone calls.

Sweeney, of St. Charles, Missouri, has had Robert Mullenger, a product manager for Industria Solutions, Inc., as a scholarship sponsor for the last three years.

"Mr. Mullenger is a really wonderful guy; he comes all the way from San Francisco for one day, just for the scholarship dinner," says Sweeney. "It's really nice to sit down and talk to him. Also it's nice to have the opportunity to e-mail him and ask him questions about his engineering discipline."

Mullenger, B.S.E.E. '89, was inspired to sponsor a scholarship—like many donors—because he had received a named scholarship while a student attending Washington University. Studying electrical engineering, Mullenger received the James B. Eads Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by McCarthy Construction Company.

Robert Mullenger, B.S.E.E. '89.

"The Eads scholarship introduced me to the concept of named scholarships and to the concept of donor-student interaction," says Mullenger. "I learned a lot about the work that McCarthy had done and about its relationship with the University. Tim McCarthy was an example of an engineer who had gone on to run a successful company and was a role model for me regarding what was possible.

"The scholarship was important from a financial standpoint, but the relationship dimension gave me a lot more. That's what convinced me that it is a great way to contribute," he continues. "It is one thing to give your money; it is another to give your time. The scholarship program allows you to do both—it allows you to give your time to the people who are benefiting from the money."

And Sweeney appreciates both the time given her by Mullenger and the financial assistance. "I am very lucky to have the scholarship," she says. "I remember taking a senior [campus] tour when I was in high school, and once I walked onto campus, I knew this is where I wanted to be—it's such a beautiful campus. Also, a lot of other schools didn't offer biomedical engineering, and I knew that that was what I wanted to study."