Retention rates jump for Huntington University

HUNTINGTON, Ind. More than ever, students are choosing the benefits of what a college degree has to offer.

This year, Huntington University saw its highest freshman-to-sophomore retention rate in more than a decade, in part due to freezing tuition and the university's Loan Repayment Program.

For 2012-13, the university saw a 73 percent retention rate. Today, that rate has jumped to 79.5 percent. The university welcomed 943 traditional undergraduate students this fall, 110 adult students and 60 graduate students. The new student class this year is 267 with a total headcount of all students at 1,113.

"The economic climate is not overly welcoming to families of college students, but some of the financial strategies that Huntington has undertaken over the past few years are impacting our students and allowing them to stay at the school they love," said Jeff Berggren, senior vice president for enrollment management and marketing. "The Loan Repayment Program is unique and powerful for students who choose or need to borrow, but the other side of student success is the support from faculty and staff who help them navigate the college journey. It is not hand-holding but rather more walking alongside them to show them that our campus cares about our students in a meaningful and measurable way."

To lessen the economic burden on students, the HU Board of Trustees voted in January to freeze tuition for the 2013-14 school year. The university also continues to offer its Loan Repayment Program which offers assistance to students with paying their loans after graduation.

With the Loan Repayment Program, if a graduate's annual salary is below $20,000, the program will reimburse the graduate for the entire amount of their loan payments. As the graduate's income grows to $36,000 the benefit is reduced proportionally. Huntington piloted the program five years ago, and last year, it served nearly 40 percent of the undergraduate student body. Learn more at

"In recent years, a growing number of private colleges have taken innovative steps to keep students' out-of-pocket costs as low as possible and remain a great value for the dollar. Huntington has been at the vanguard of that movement," David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said at the time about the tuition freeze.

Huntington students this year come from faraway states and countries. They represent 31 states, 21 countries and a wide range of ethnicities. Of the 943 undergraduate students, 42 are international students and 72 are ethnic minorities. Overall, Huntington has the most diverse undergraduate student population both in terms of total numbers and percentage of enrollment in school history.

"I'm very encouraged and enthused about the progress we have made in this important area of our student family," Berggren said. "As a Christ-centered campus, we should be more reflective of the full body of Christ."