College will take pork for tuition

Sunday, July 21, 2002

ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- With hogs bringing 40 cents a pound on a good day, Gina Kientzy fretted that her family's farm income would slump so much that she couldn't afford to continue college.

But because of an innovative bartering idea at Lindenwood University, Kientzy graduated with a degree in business administration.

Her dad traded hogs for tuition. The hogs were butchered at a USDA-approved processing plant in Troy, Mo., becoming bacon, sausage and pork steaks for Lindenwood's cafeteria.

"It's basically so many pounds of pig in exchange for the price of attending classes. This played a big part in my education," Kientzy, 25, said Friday from her farm home in Silex, Mo. "I might not have been able to afford school without this idea."

Value in exchange for value -- it's a concept the private school wants to extend to other agricultural goods that could feed students while financing higher education for farm families.

Perhaps half a dozen students have gone through Lindenwood during the last couple of years by bartering hogs for tuition, said school spokesman Scott Queen.

Queen said Lindenwood's president, Dennis Spellmann, came up with the idea after mulling how the school might help cash-strapped farm families.

Spellmann wants to expand the concept to other farm products. For example, a farm family might barter bushels of corn or soybeans for tuition, and the school cafeteria could end up with processed food products from the crops.

Up to 50 students a year

The school is working with the Missouri Pork Producers Association to spread awareness of its willingness to barter. Lindenwood's financial aid office is prepared to make arrangements for up to 50 students each school year to attend classes in exchange for fresh pork, plus a few other considerations.

Here's Lindenwood's offer: Tuition covering two semesters usually runs $11,200. But in exchange for hogs worth $3,200 -- the number of animals will vary with market rates -- the school will waive the balance of the tuition charge, Queen said.

However, Lindenwood does encourage students to apply for grants and scholarships to sweeten their end of the transaction.

Room and board runs an additional $5,600 per school year. But in exchange for 10 hours of work each week at various campus jobs, which the university says is worth $1,800 per year, plus cash payments of $1,800, the remaining $2,000 for room and board is waived.

The total potential savings under this scenario could run as high as $10,000 per school year, Queen said.

"Lindenwood doesn't want any qualified student to be denied an education because of finances," Spellmann said in a statement. "We are feeding people in our cafeteria with these hogs. And it's not just hogs we are talking about. We'll barter cattle or soybeans too. We want to make sure people have the chance to get an education in Missouri."

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