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April 16, 2021

College offers money-back guarantee on tuition

Community colleges have long provided an opportunity for both young and older adults to learn new job skills, often by attending part time.

Prospective students are turning away from some schools, however, in favour of more affordable options, forcing many colleges to work harder to justify their price of admission.

For instance, rather than imposing an across-the-board tuition increase, B.C.’s Okanagan College is targeting program areas where its tuition is below the average for similar size institutions.

But how about offering a money-back guarantee instead?

That's the pitch Lansing Community College, one of the largest colleges in Michigan, has been making to its prospective students.

Beginning next month, students who take six-week courses in certain subjects will be guaranteed a job within a year or their tuition money, which averages about $2,400, will be refunded.

The guarantee focuses on four technical jobs: call-centre specialists, pharmacy technicians, quality inspectors and computer machinists.

What’s the catch? Well, the offer is only open to a total of 61 students. Those accepted can't miss any classes or assignments and, once they do graduate, have to prove that they're actively applying for jobs.

Will it work? Not likely, says one college dean on his blog, largely because the college hasn't made any arrangements with any local employers to actually guarantee spots. In other words, it’s either bluffing or praying.

For any college to have to issue a pile of refunds at exactly the moment when it's least economically able to do so seems dangerous, if not crazy, he maintains.

Would an arrangement like this influence your decision? Have you heard of any similar offers where you live?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...