USA (SHM/MNN) — You hear so much talk about the price of college, it's easy
to get intimidated. But how much does college really cost?
Tuition to a private college often costs more than state colleges. The average is around $30,000 a year. For many families, scholarships and state aid
help a student manage the tuition and fees.
Up until now, students looking at Shepherds College were looking at paying
for school out of pocket. But that's about
to change. On February 3, 2011, Shepherds
College was officially granted accreditation candidacy status from the North
Central Association – Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA
For a three-year-old school, this is a big deal. Director Tracy Terrill says, "As far as we
know, we're the only school that works with individuals that have intellectual
disabilities, to ever accomplish even this first step: the candidacy for
The uniqueness of the school and its mission make it stand out. Shepherds College and its parent ministry,
Shepherds Ministries, support people with developmental disabilities and help
them reach their potential.
Accreditation can help the school in two areas: growth and development.
Last October, Shepherds College hosted a NCA CASI Quality Assurance Review
team that assessed the school's ability to meet the seven accreditation
standards. The school received the
highest possible score–"highly functional"–for the Teaching &
Learning standard and earned a score of "operational" in each of the other
Terrill says, "There's a lot of importance to us being accredited. I think it gives us credibility as a
post-secondary school, the validation that we are a legitimate school. We've gone through this process just like
other schools that are similar to us."
Terrill goes on to say, "We hope to qualify to participate, as an
institution, in the Federal Student Aid program. That would open the doors for
families to fill out a FAFSA online and apply for Pell Grants and student
loans and Parent Plus loans."
There's still a lot of work ahead. First, Terrill explains, "We will host a full accreditation visit this fall,
2011. If all goes well, then a year from
now we should be fully accredited."
Then, get ready for the influx of students. "We will have residential facilities on campus as of August, to
accommodate up to 50 students. So that's our next benchmark."
It's a good fit for the intellectually disabled students who are looking at
what's next for after high school. "We have a pretty comprehensive program with
basic academic skills. We teach a lot of life skills, things like that. [We] have a residential program. There are
vocational skills. So it's a holistic approach," Terrill says. "But at the center of everything is the
Gospel and what we like to call ‘appropriate independence.'"
Without the Gospel, he notes, there is no Shepherd's College. So what's next? Lots of prayer, hope and determination. "I think the sky's the limit."