BARBOURVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Some Eastern Kentucky college students could get their last semester of college tuition free. It's part of a new program at Union College in Barbourville.
Union College freshman Stefanie Edgell wants to earn good grades to get her final senior semester tuition free.
"To have my last semester paid for would be a miracle, amazing!" Edgell said.
Students with a 3.5 GPA who participate in an extracurricular activity, attend all "inaugural Class" events and complete 75 hours of community service can get their last semester's full tuition waived.
"As kind of an incentive but also a reward for their hard work, dedication to their education, and service to the community," said Dr. Marcia Hawkins, Union College President.
Officials say currently, around half of the college's freshmen return as sophomores and fewer graduate in four years. First-year College President Marcia Hawkins thought the tuition waiver would keep students in school. She got the idea before Christmas.
"When I was standing there during convocation talking to these kids, and I thought, 'I really do want to hand them each a diploma at the end of four years,'" she said.
Dr. Hawkins believes this program will not only benefit students but will also benefit the region in the long-term.
"An educated citizenry is less inclined to crime and more inclined to be philanthropic," Dr. Hawkins said.
The program is already motivating freshmen. Edgell says students are studying more.
"It pushes me in my classes because I know I have to get my GPA to get it paid for my last semester," said Edgell.
The tuition waiver would start in 2015-2016 school year.
Seniors who do not have a 3.5 GPA can still qualify for reduced tuition their last semester.
Union College's website lists current tuition for a full school year as $20,950.