Transylvania in Kentucky offers free 5th year for students

Transylvania University students will have the option for a fifth year of classes tuition free if they’re enrolled full-time this school year, the university announced Friday.

The free fifth-year option — called Transy Plus One — is one of three that the private university is offering to students whose semesters will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In another option — Transy Plus Summer — a student who is taking all online courses will have the opportunity to have a free summer course. It’s possible for enrolled students to utilize both options, university spokesperson Megan Moloney said.

In the third option, Pioneer Pledge Plus, a Transy student taking a gap year will be protected from tuition increases and will be able to pay the same tuition as they would have during the year they missed. Tuition without financial aid is $41,610 for the school year.

“We’re doing everything we can to deliver the best Transylvania experience,” said Sarah Coen, the vice president for strategic initiatives and enrollment management. “But we know in light of that, we’re probably not able to deliver how we wanted to deliver these educational experiences if the pandemic was not here.”

Transylvania classes start Aug. 31, and students will be taking a mix of online, hybrid and in-person classes. Students will be moving into dorms in the coming weeks. Enrollment, which typically hovers around 1,000, is largely on track for this year, Moloney said, but the university won’t know for sure if it has had a COVID-19-related dip until after its early September campus census.

Students looking to accept the free fifth-year option will essentially be getting five years of school for the price of four, Moloney said. It could give athletes who have had postponed or canceled seasons, a free year of eligibility or could give students time to pursue a second major. So far, the athletic conference that the school is in has postponed men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball to the spring.

Coen said the university is trying to give students options to do activities later if they are affected by the pandemic.

“If they’re enrolled but maybe they’re not getting the full experiences they would have before, they may say I do want that fifth year because there was a course I didn’t get to take or something I wanted to do, another year to study abroad,” Coen said.

Moloney said the university is asking students, who are planning to take a gap year, to let the school know of their plans before the school year starts. Even if they decide after the beginning of classes, Moloney said the school would likely still work with them.

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