MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — The baseball diamond isn't the only hidden gem at Hiwassee College nestled in Madisonville, Tennessee.
The small Methodist school provides a one-of-a-kind equine program.
"You can actually bring your horse and board it on campus with you," The enrollment department's John Cage said. "We are the 14th ranked best value school in the state, where students can choose from a wide variety of majors."
The dental hygiene program initially attracted Kendra King.
"Fell in love with the campus and the people," King said. "So, I was like, I am going to give it a try; they have what I want to do and offered me a basketball scholarship."
Now, the school is offering this junior and other students the "Hiwassee Advantage" this fall.
According to Cage, "we are the only school in Tennessee that can guarantee when you graduate you'll make $40, 000, and if you don't, Hiwassee will help you repay your loans until you do."
When students enroll, they'll receive an award letter from the college specifying their lower and upper income thresholds. That determines how much assistance they'll receive after graduation.
"We feel deeply accountable and deeply responsible for recruiting and retaining," Hiwassee College President Robin Tricoli said. "I want to keep the brain drain from happening in Tennessee."
There's no additional cost with the advantage, but it increases value beyond the college's 98 percent graduation rate.
"A lot of it has to do with our students' strong work ethic of our students," Tricoli said. "There's this safety net that will protect them, so I'm proud that we're a pioneer."
"We see it as an investment instead of a risk," Cage said. "We're confident the degree that students get at Hiwassee will help them move into the job market when they graduate in four years. We live in a time of economic uncertainty. Students feel that."
King is a big fan of the program.
"It's a really great comfort for me, i think all colleges should do this."
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