Since its launch in 2019, the innovative Williams Works program has literally saved more than 70 students a fortune in college loans (the average four-year student debt in Arkansas is $33,525; the national average is even higher).
Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge pioneered the program, the only of its kind in Arkansas, in order to help students avoid the excessive college-debt trap.
It works like this: full-time students at WBU work part-time at local businesses (16 hours a week) and they earn their tuition and fees for their labor. If they also sign up for a full-time (40 hours per week) summer job, they can get room and board paid for, too.
All told, a fully involved Williams Works student can graduate with a four-year degree completely debt-free!
The program’s purpose is to make private, Christian, liberal arts education affordable for students who otherwise might not be able to cover the cost of going to college. On a 4-year degree program at Williams Baptist University, that adds up to a total of $72,000-plus in tuition and fees paid for through Williams Works.
So far, the concept is proving as popular as expected — and as effective. Dozens of students have earned countless dollars toward their tuition, fees, room and board since Williams Works was unveiled. In addition to employment at WBU affiliated divisions, such as Eagle Farms, Williams Corner, the Hotel Rhea and the campus physical plant, students also work at local businesses like Custom-Pak manufacturing, Lawrence Healthcare hospital, WatersEdge accounting, and Fresh Ideas food service.
“The current tuition-driven model of higher education is not working as it should for students or for the institutions. The costs to students are higher than many can afford. Colleges and universities are facing declining enrollments and falling revenue. Williams Works reflects our commitment as a university to move in an entirely new direction,” Williams Baptist University President Dr. Stan Norman said.
“It has become painfully clear to us that many students and families have reached the point where a university education is a significant financial burden. Williams Works is our attempt to ease that burden for those families, and to give graduates a chance to start their adult lives without a crushing amount of student loan debt,” he added.
Interested students or families can get more information and apply for the initiative at williamsbu.edu/WilliamsWorks.