First Questa Scholars graduate with Class of 2013

HUNTINGTON, Ind. Last month, Erin Yoder turned her tassel and graduated from Huntington University with a degree in nursing. For most recent graduates, finishing college comes with apprehensions and the often overwhelming burden of paying back student loans. But thanks to the Questa Scholars Program and to Huntington University Yoder and her Questa classmates are getting a little help.

Graduates Tianna Clark of Fort Wayne; Christopher Fox of Fort Wayne; Jerod Hevel of New Haven; Austin Schenkel of Fort Wayne; Kara Sipe of Fort Wayne; Megan Storch of Fort Wayne; Jacob Willinger of Grabill; and Yoder of Leo were the first student cohort to enroll in the Huntington University Questa Scholars Payback Program.

"The Questa loan was an amazing help," Yoder said. "I was given a great deal of financial help my freshman year, but the rest of my time at Huntington was not like that. I had fairly large out-of-pocket expenses."

The Questa Scholars Program offers qualified students forgiveness of up to 50 percent of their Questa Scholars loan if they graduate from college with a 2.75 GPA and choose to live and work in northeast Indiana for at least five years after graduation. Questa Scholars may borrow $20,000 over four years for college.

In addition to this program, Huntington University will forgive an additional 25 percent of a Questa Scholar's loan balance if the student participates in the program and graduates from Huntington University.

Since graduating, Yoder has started the process of paying back her student loans, but with Questa, she has no worries about making payments.

"The amount of money that goes back to Questa is so minimal. It's amazing," she said. "From a personal standpoint, I know that the Questa foundation allowed me to remain at Huntington for all four years. That was something that was incredibly important to me. I am thankful for that."

Hevel, an elementary education and middle grades social studies graduate, agreed.

"The Questa loan is one of the pieces of the puzzle that allowed me to go to HU," he said. "I am very thankful for the Questa foundation."

Twenty-four Questa Scholars are currently enrolled at HU. Jeff Berggren, senior vice president for enrollment management and marketing, believes the program is effective because it helps students pay for school and uses debt forgiveness as the incentive for recent graduates to stay and work in northeast Indiana.

"I talk to colleagues nationally about this program," he said. "There's nothing out there that's this pro-active."

According to its website, the Questa Foundation for Education assists young people with financial need to attain a college education, graduate with less debt and become contributing members of northeast Indiana's workforce.

"We are proud to be investing in these bright and gifted students as it is a great way to make a positive return on talent in our communities," said Marc Levy, executive director of Questa Foundation.

For more information about the HU Questa Scholars Payback Program, visit