Small Christian Colleges like Grace College are engines for the economy. They are committed to offering generous financial aid. They are vehicles for career success. And they produce graduates who care deeply about their communities.
We believe there is something unique and powerful about Christian higher education and the numbers don’t lie.
So, what comes to mind when you hear the words “small Christian college”?
For some, required chapel services and a strong res life community come to mind. Some might think about exploring all fields of study through a Christian worldview. Some think about being prepared to lead a life of purpose far beyond their time in college.
But we also recognize that these positive distinctions of Christian higher education can be overshadowed by other perceptions — many of which are untrue.
Others hear “private Christian college” and think about a high-dollar degree for the wealthy that feels out-of-reach. Others might think that these institutions lack community connections and job opportunities. And if you are being honest, for some, the words conjure up thoughts of student loans and insurmountable debt.
But when you look at the data, the case to attend a small Christian college is strong.
Christian colleges in the United States contribute $60 billion to the economy annually. This economic activity also generates $9.7 billion in federal tax revenue, 340,000 jobs in the economy, and $17.8 billion in salary and benefits.
As COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the nation’s economy, Christian colleges and universities are playing a vital role in recovering economic growth through operations, capital investments, and job opportunities.
Grace College alone contributes more than $84 million annually to our local economy.
This was one of the many factors considered in the decision to bring back our students for the 2020 fall semester.
Let’s take a look at the financial benefits of Christian higher education.
95% of students from Christian colleges receive institutional aid, whereas only 78% at non-Christian private institutions do. Similarly, students at Christian colleges that take out an average of $7,453 in loans repay them at a rate of 77.6% while students of other private schools often take out around $11,950 in loans and repay them at a rate of 71.9%.
At Grace College, 100% of our first-year students in 2019 received financial aid.
In addition to our scholarships and grants, we make education affordable for our students through our three-year accelerated degree program. Students can also get their bachelor’s and master’s in four years — a rare offering in higher education.
If you were under the impression that only wealthy people attend Christian colleges — try again. Did you know that 50% of students at Christian colleges and universities come from families that make less than $50,000 per year? Additionally, one in three Christian university students are first-generation students and one in three students at Christian universities receive Pell Grants.
In fact, Grace’s 2020 incoming class is the most socioeconomically and racially diverse of all time. It’s important to us that first-generation and low-income students are given an equal opportunity to get an excellent education.
How does the wellbeing of a student at Christian college match up to students at other institutions? We can’t speak for Christian schools at large — but at Grace there is a seismic difference.
Grace College graduates are nearly twice as likely to identify as “thriving” in all five areas of Gallup’s wellbeing index (social, financial, community, physical, and purpose).
Here at Grace, students and faculty work hard to create an environment of authenticity. Many students report that the reason they chose Grace was the feeling they got when they stepped foot on campus. We want our students to feel at home here. Our goal is to be a place that they are free to connect, bond, and become.
Grace College graduates are more than twice as likely to strongly agree that their “professors care about them as people” than college graduates nationally. And 3 out of 4 of Grace students reported that they had “at least one professor who made them excited about learning.”
This is the groundwork of our academic success. Students need to know that they are valued. They need to know that their professors don’t just care about the material they teach, but also the people they are teaching.
A Gallup survey also found that Grace students were 60% more likely than the average Indiana student to say that they had a “job or internship that allowed them to apply what they were learning in the classroom.” We have more than 250 internship opportunities for students to take advantage of, and more than $800,000 has been generated for students through these paid internships.
We care about where students go after they graduate and how they contribute to their communities.
Overall, Grace graduates were 13 percentage points more likely than the average Indiana college graduate to strongly agree to all three of the following workplace fulfillment statements:
“I am deeply interested in the work that I do.”
“My job gives me the opportunity to do work that interests me.”
“I have the ideal job for me.”
We love nothing more than to know that our graduates are leading impactful careers and purposeful lives.
*The statistics in this article are taken from:
- 2020 “Case for Christian Higher Education” by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
- 2020 Grace College Scorecard by Gallup
- Spring 2019 Economic and Community Impact Report by Independent Colleges of Indiana