Liberty University, the school founded by Jerry Falwell and now run by his son, instituted a program a long time ago in order to keep families inside their bubble. If you enrolled your child in one of several private Christian schools from grades 3-12 (paying tuition along the way), then those kids would be able to attend Liberty University for free.
Benjamin and Sarah Newman felt it was a wise financial move, so instead of homeschooling their five kids, they sent them to Liberty Christian Academy, one of the schools involved in the scholarship program.
You can imagine their disappointment to learn that Liberty University has canceled the program — and a lot of families who sent their kids to those Christian schools specifically to get the tuition break are going to be screwed over as a result.
“It was a huge financial relief to know that our kids would be able to attend college and that we could invest in their education now,” said Benjamin Newman.
Last week Liberty University announced it was ending the scholarship program for LCA and three other Christian schools.
Current students will still get 10% off at Liberty for every year they attended LCA up to this year.
New students enrolled after [September] 1, 2015 will not be eligible.
“LU has every right to terminate the scholarship program,” said Sarah Newman. “Our prayer in this situation is that they would allow the families that are currently enrolled to grandfather out of the program.”
Liberty University is likely doing this for financial reasons, which I could understand, but this is supposed to be a school that puts God first. That’s why it’s appalling that they’re hurting Christian families who put their trust in the school and its leaders in order to make a little more money. (Someone’s gotta pay for the Falwell Phallus Tower.)
Like the Newmans said, it would have been better for them to continue the program for anyone currently enrolled in it — and make clear to parents who are considering enrolling their kids in Liberty-affiliated school that the program is no longer in effect. Instead, parents whose children began the program over the past few years in hopes of free tuition will now have to pay more money for college than they bargained for… that is, if their kids still go to Liberty.
Maybe that’s the one upside to this: Some of the affected students may decide Liberty University isn’t the school for them.
The response to Liberty’s decision may be best summarized by this email I received from Jake, a former Liberty student:
I have a coworker who moved her family [to Lynchburg] from California and has worked hard to pay the $1300 per month tuition under the guarantee that her three children would go to LU for free when they were old enough. This decision by LU has devastated her.
As I said, I would rather people don’t go to LU, but I can’t help but feel for these poor folks who have made great financial sacrifices only to have the rug pulled out from under them.
It’s made all the worse since students at LU are constantly bombarded by the administration’s blustering about how financially successful the school is due to God’s blessing. They’re so blessed that they’ve decided to pull a penny-pinching move sure to hurt those that support the school the most.
There’s currently a petition at Change.org asking for Liberty to rescind it’s decision:
The decision to not grandfather all current enrollees into the program is unfair, unethical and lacks the fundamental foundation that LU was supposedly built upon. Have the leaders of Liberty University forgotten the very principles they strive to teach?
One would expect a higher ethical standard from such an organization that claims to be “Building Champions for Christ.” Building champions should not be synonymous with building shrines to honor your institution; it is not about how much money there is in the reserve and it’s not about making decisions based upon financial gain only — it is about people, honoring God, honoring promises made and remembering and honoring the past.
The petition has more than 400 signatures. But I doubt it’ll sway Liberty officials. They’ll just say God told them this is the right move, and that will be that.
(Image via Wikipedia)