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Simpson College offers tuition-free fifth year to all current students

'Fifth-Year Tuition-Free Guarantee' ensures students impacted by COVID-19 the opportunity for the full Simpson Experience


Simpson College (simpson.edu) announced today that all students enrolled full-time during the 2020-21 academic year will be eligible for a fifth year at the college tuition free. The offer ensures all current students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic have the chance to participate in the full, robust Simpson College experience, for which the College is known. 

Simpson College takes pride in offering transformational learning opportunities not only in the classroom, but through real-world, hands-on experiences. Students prepare for their careers with co-curricular activities such as internships, intercollegiate athletics, student media, speech and debate, the performing arts, student government and more.

“As we cannot be certain what the future holds for our students and their families, we want to ensure they are able to experience all Simpson College has to offer,” Marsha Kelliher, president of Simpson College said. “The only way we know how to do that is to provide longer access to our academic and co-curricular programs with no penalty to the student. It is the Simpson way.” 

Students will be able to return for another semester or year to complete anything they believe is unfinished – tuition free.
When the pandemic began its global spread in mid-March, Simpson responded quickly to protect the safety of the community. The college swiftly transitioned to remote learning and canceled all in-person events on campus, including intercollegiate athletics, musical performances and gatherings on campus. Simpson will resume face-to-face learning Aug. 24, following strict guidelines to keep its community as safe and healthy as possible.

Eligibility for the Fifth-Year Tuition-Free Guarantee

All undergraduate students enrolled full-time for both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters are eligible for the Fifth-Year Tuition-Free Guarantee. The guarantee can begin to be applied in fall 2021 for students that meet the following criteria:

  • Student has completed eight semesters of undergraduate education at Simpson College (12 or more credits successfully completed per semester) or completed at least two semesters at Simpson and six semesters from another institution(s) that successfully transferred to Simpson (for a total of eight full-time semesters).
  • Student is continuously enrolled at Simpson with no breaks in their full-time enrollment from the semester in which they first matriculated to the College.
  • Student is in good academic standing as defined by the Simpson College academic success guidelines.
  • Students in 3+2 programs are not eligible.
  • Coursework within the fifth year is restricted to undergraduate degree completion. By its nature, Continuing and Graduate education coursework is excluded. 
  • Students may not use the fifth year to pursue study abroad.
  • Students must meet with the office of financial aid to declare their interest and submit their 5th year application by April 1.
  • Students must complete and submit a FAFSA by April 1.
  • Students must live on campus during the fifth year.

NEW FAQs for Fifth Year Free Tuition:

  1. Tuition will be covered in full, with a combination of your federal, state and Simpson scholarships and grants. You would be responsible for all fees, room and board. 
  2. It is urgent that you schedule an appointment with Financial Aid to determine your federal loan eligibility should you choose to take a fifth year or a ninth semester. There are limits in your federal loan eligibility, and you may not have any remaining to help cover the room and board expenses.
  3. If you have already submitted your graduation application, you will receive the tuition waiver but YOU WILL NOT be eligible for federal or state financial aid of any type. For the current 2020-2021, the cost of room, board and fees, which will be covered by you in the fifth year is $10,062. This amount will increase over the years. This should help you make a much more informed decision about the fifth-year option.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the soonest I can take my tuition-free fifth year?
As soon as Fall 2021. 

Are room, board and fees covered?
The Tuition-Free Guarantee covers the full cost of tuition, but you will be responsible for paying room, board and all fees (including activities, technology, health, etc.). Our current room, board and fees are listed on this website. All of these charges are subject to change before you begin your fifth year. 

Can I live off-campus?
One of the requirements of this benefit is that you live on campus. 

How do I know if I am eligible?
If you are enrolled full-time during the 2020-21 academic year, are in good academic standing, not enrolled in a 3+2 program and have been continuously enrolled since you started at Simpson, you are eligible for this benefit. 

What if I am an international student?
If you are an international student, please work through and with Office of Multicultural and International Affairs. Per the SEVIS reg (8 CFR 214.2 (f)):

(iii) Program extension for students in lawful status. An F-1 student who is unable to meet the program completion date on the Form I-20 may be granted an extension by the DSO if the DSO certifies that the student has continually maintained status and that the delays are caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extensions. A DSO may not grant an extension if the student did not apply for an extension until after the program end date noted on the Form I-20. An F-1 student who is unable to complete the educational program within the time listed on Form I-20 and who is ineligible for program extension pursuant to this paragraph (f)(7) is considered out of status. If eligible, the student may apply for reinstatement under the provisions of paragraph (f)(16) of this section.

Do I have to enroll for a full fifth year to take advantage of this benefit?
No. You are more than welcome to attend for a single semester if you choose. But you must maintain continuous enrollment. That means you have to attend the fall semester. You cannot take the fall off and then attend in spring. 

Do I have to enroll full-time during the fifth year?
No, you can take fewer than 12 credits for the year.

If I am enrolled part-time in the fifth year, do I have to live on campus?
Yes. Regardless of the number of credits you take, you must live on-campus to receive the benefit.

I am a student-athlete. Can I take advantage of this benefit?
Yes, it is open to all students who are enrolled full-time during the 2020-21 academic year. Please contact Tara Rehmeier, assistant Athletic Director, (tara.rehmeier@simpson.edu) to see if you are eligible for a fifth year of athletic competition. 


About Simpson College
Simpson College is a private, liberal arts college located in Iowa with campuses in Indianola, West Des Moines and online. Founded in 1860, the college has approximately 1,300 full-time undergraduate students and approximately 400 part-time students. Simpson offers more than 80 majors, minors and programs in addition to three graduate programs. Outside of the classroom, Simpson is a member of the NCAA Division III American Rivers Conference, hosts eight Greek houses on campus and sponsors many extracurricular options for student involvement.