Over coffee, brochures and transcripts, Grace University students on Friday talked about their future with Concordia University officials.
Grace students are trying to figure out the next step in their lives after their school announced it would close at the end of the school year. Concordia, of Seward, Nebraska, invited Grace students to a coffee shop across South 10th Street from Grace to look over their transcripts and invite them to Concordia. Only seven Grace students showed up at the No More Empty Cups coffee shop.
“I feel OK about it,” said Scott Seevers, Concordia senior vice president, who attended the session in Omaha. “The goal of this was really to be available and not intrusive.”
Concordia, about 80 miles southwest of Omaha, is one of several schools offering a place for Grace students to continue pursuing their degrees.
It’s a chance to help Grace students and an opportunity to increase enrollment. Another of those schools is Midland University, based in Fremont.
“Our view is it’s not a competition,” said Eliza Ferzely, vice president of enrollment management at Midland. “We really want students to find the right fit for them. We think Midland could be that for many of the students.”
When Dana College in Blair closed seven years ago, nearby Midland enrolled 321 of Dana’s approximately 550 students, said Midland spokesman Tracy Buffington.
Ferzely said Midland will give Grace undergraduate students automatic acceptance, will transfer all of Grace’s credits, will honor all Grace scholarships and give free room and board for the first semester.
Midland will hold Grace at Midland Day at its Omaha location, 11213 Davenport St., on Oct. 25 so Grace students can talk to Midland officials and start the application process.
Among the schools reaching out to Grace students:
» The College of St. Mary pledges to charge Grace undergraduates $1,000 less than they’re currently paying (regardless of scholarship packages and other aid) and will accept all credits from Grace.
» Bellevue University will waive the application fee, transfer all credits and possibly match tuition, among other things.
» Doane University in Crete has offered Grace students free room and board for the first semester at Crete. Doane also guarantees the transfer of up to 90 credits.
» Union College in Lincoln also will give free room and board for the first semester and guarantees “competitive scholarship packages” for any Grace transfer students.
» York College pledged that Grace transfers “won’t pay more in tuition at York.” York said it would try to keep students’ graduation timelines and would give “personalized attention” throughout the transfer.
Sara Olson, a Nebraska Wesleyan spokeswoman, said her university wouldn’t offer incentives until Grace operations end.
“Guiding this decision is the principle of not recruiting students currently enrolled at another institution,” Olson said. “We believe the Grace University community is deserving of the time to reflect on all the institution achieved it its 75 years.”
That said, Olson noted that Nebraska Wesleyan guarantees the same cost for tuition as Grace students are paying now and will maintain that until the students graduate.
Grace announced this month to tearful students and staffers that it would close in the spring because of financial problems and low enrollment. Grace has fewer than 300 students; Concordia has about 2,700.
Concordia has offered scholarship packages, generous credit transfer and other incentives.
Maleesha Mustion of McCook, Nebraska, said her meeting with Concordia officials went well Friday. There were five staffers and administrators.
“It’s very sad,” Mustion, a junior, said of Grace’s demise.
Corey Gray, director of Concordia career development and retention, brought comfort dog Nicodemus to the session. Nicodemus, a golden retriever, was perhaps the biggest hit of the session.
One Grace student said: “That was a smart move, I’m just sayin’. Bringing a dog.”