Hope Forward to Travel South by Southwest

President Matthew A. Scogin ’02 and the Hope Forward initiative will take the national stage this spring during the South by Southwest (SXSW) EDU Conference & Festival in Austin, Texas.

Only 180 presentations were chosen out of more than 800 applications for this year’s event, which will run Monday-Thursday, March 7-10. Scogin will present “Hope Forward: College Without Tuition” on the Business and Investment track in the event’s Future20 format on Wednesday, March 9, at 12:30 p.m. CST.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to participate in South by Southwest EDU and share our Hope Forward model and the vision it represents,” Scogin said. “We’ve launched Hope Forward to make a Hope education more accessible to students by removing tuition as a barrier, but the high cost of a college education is a national crisis. We hope to inspire discussion and out-of-the-box thinking about innovative ways to address it.”

Announced in July, Hope Forward is a distinctive model for fully funding tuition so that students can pursue impact instead of incurring debt and needing to chase income. Rather than require students to pay for their own degrees, the approach will ask them to contribute to the college voluntarily after they graduate to support those who follow.

“College will never be free. It will always be expensive. The question we need to ask is: Who should pay for it, and when?” Scogin said. “The current model — used throughout higher ed — forces students to pay a lot at the poorest point in their lives, burdening them with debt for decades. Hope Forward flips the current model on its head.”

Scogin will speak for 20 minutes, with a question-and-answer period following. He will reflect on the broken nature of the current business model of higher education and how Hope Forward emphasizes gift-giving rather than bill-paying; how fully-funded tuition addresses social justice, since college equalizes earning potential for students from diverse economic backgrounds; and how the Hope Forward model transforms the college/student relationship, enhancing lifelong learning and connection with graduates.

The college-wide strategy is built on a foundation of three pillars: accessibility, generosity and community. Reflective of the three pillars, the tuition model uses a “pay-it-forward” approach. Participating students will receive a Hope College education with tuition fully funded by the generous gifts of others, and pay only for room and board. During their four years at Hope, students will explore gratitude, both as a beneficiary of others’ generosity and as generous givers themselves. When, as alumni, they give to Hope after graduation, they will become part of a continuum of generational support for the students of the future.

Hope estimates that its endowment will need to increase by an additional $1.1 billion (from its current level of $308 million) for Hope Forward to support the entire student body of 3,000 students. The fundraising effort is anticipated to require at least 10 years. In the meantime, a gift from an anonymous donor has enabled Hope to enroll an inaugural cohort of 22 students this fall and to support a second cohort starting in the fall of 2022, with funding continuing through graduation for each of the two groups.

Please visit hope.edu/forward for more about Hope Forward and sxswedu.com for more about South by Southwest EDU.