Want to make college more affordable? Stop handing out student loans.

This editorial was first published by USA Today on October 27, 2023.

My decision to leave the financial world and return to Hope College as its 14th president was motivated, in part, by a question that continues to haunt me: Will the United States persist as a land of opportunity for all, or will it turn into a land of privilege for a select few? 

If you haven’t noticed, back-to-school season looked different this year. Fewer undergraduates are attending classes on American college campuses this fall than in the previous decade.

For generations, the route to a better life most often passed through higher education. The promise was that the investment in a college degree would have a profound payoff in salary, opportunity and overall life trajectory. College was the ticket to the American dream.

Yet, undergraduate enrollment at four-year colleges has declined about 2% annually since 2010. And the sticker price of college tuition is more than 20 times higher today than it was in 1969. 

Read the rest of my editorial at USAToday.com.

Reflections on the Catalyst Summit

cat·​a·​lyst ˈka-tə-ləst 
: an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action

It has been over a month since Hope College’s Catalyst Summit with Malcolm Gladwell to explore a future where higher education is built on an entirely new funding model.

With the benefit of some time to reflect on the thought-provoking content presented by our dynamic speakers, here are four things I’m thinking about:

1. Real change is a long term commitment 

Describing his 15-year-long journey of transforming Arizona State University into the most innovative school in the U.S., President Michael Crowe advised Hope College to “expect to take over a decade to bring real change.”

He said “the notion of waiting 15 years for a payoff is so antithetical to the way we think as a society right now”. He urged us to not “give up too soon.”

We framed the summit around the concept of “catalyst” to reflect our commitment to spark change. We have hope that a gift-based funding model for higher education is possible. And we’re in it for the long haul!

2. Equal Access Means Equal Socioeconomic Distribution

The current funding model for higher education is squeezing out the middle class. 

Typical conversations about educational access focus on those from the bottom quintile, or the poorest 20% of the population. That’s a worthy aim and needs our continued support as a society.  

On the other end of the spectrum, however, top earners are disproportionately represented. This is especially true at the elite schools. The Ivy Leagues, like Princeton for example, pull 72% or more of their students from the top 20% of earners. Even colleges like Hope are not immune: 58% of our student body is from the top 20%.

The middle 60%, who can’t afford to pay for college outright but aren’t eligible for need-based aid, are losing the opportunity of a four year college degree. Analysis by the Brookings Institution found that the middle class is being disproportionately pushed into educational routes like community colleges, which are now the most common institution type attended by high school graduates from the middle 60%.

I did the math: If we as a college want to truly pursue equal access, it means having an equal distribution of socioeconomic diversity, which looks like having 20% of our student body from the top 20%, 60% from the middle 60%, and 20% from the bottom 20%. 

How do we accomplish this? I think we have to move away from tuition as our funding source. 

The current tuition model demands that a larger percentage of the student population have an ability to pay, in part to fund scholarships for their peers. In other words, the current tuition model is a redistribution model.  

Hope Forward might feel counter-cultural in the way that it’s extended equally to everybody, regardless of their ability to pay. But if talent is equally distributed; opportunity should be also.

3. The difference between a scholarship and a gift

By far the best session of the Catalyst Summit was the student panel, where six current Hope Forward students talked about their experience with the funding model. 

When asked to make their “elevator pitch” for Hope Forward, one of the students said: “anyone can get a scholarship. What’s beautiful about Hope Forward is that it’s more about giving than receiving. Receiving a gift makes you want to give.”

Hope Forward is not a scholarship. It’s a gift. The difference between the two is that a scholarship is earned (based on merit or need), whereas our vision is to one day give all our students an education through Hope Forward.  In exchange our students sign a covenant committing to give.  And it turns out, the students who have participated so far have made this commitment with joy.

Because an unearned gift begets gratitude. And it’s gratitude that begets generosity. 

4. What does it mean to be revolutionary?

Throughout his visit, Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly referred to us as revolutionists, saying that we are leading a revolution to change higher education. Since the summit, I’ve been asking myself – are we at Hope College “revolutionary”? 

If it IS the case that we’re leading a revolution, it’s not because we’re smarter, harder working or have better ideas. Perhaps, it’s simply because we’re following the original revolutionist: Jesus.

Jesus teaches us that hope is a belief that all problems are solvable, so we took a problem – lack of access to higher education – and went to his truths. Jesus says “freely you have received; now freely give” (Matthew 10:8).  The gospel is a gift given freely, which brings about transformation. We’re saying, what if we could apply that to our financial model at Hope College.

Being revolutionary is putting our faith to work, believing that everything we touch – even the business model of a higher educational institution – should look more like the Gospel.

Catalyst Summit to Explore Possibilities Around Access & Innovation in Higher Education

cat·​a·​lyst ˈka-tə-ləst :
an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action

The Catalyst Summit, hosted by Hope College and Malcolm Gladwell, is a day for innovators, thought leaders and change-makers to explore the possibilities of a future where higher education is built on an entirely new funding model making college education affordable and accessible to all.

Happening later this week at Hope College and streamed live for the public, the summit will feature author and champion of change Malcolm Gladwell, as well as other influential thought leaders.

Higher ed is the key to solving income inequality. Raj Chetty, an economist at Harvard, shows that students from different socio-economic backgrounds who attend the same college can have nearly identical opportunities for success after graduation. 

But the skyrocketing cost of college creates a barrier that, for too many, is just too high. For too many, opportunity is pre-determined by their family’s net worth or what zip code the student grows up in.

And even for those with means, the high price tag causes students to treat their education as a transaction: they pay their fee and they’re handed a degree in return. Instead of creating, as C.S. Lewis described Oxford, “a society for the pursuit of learning,” this perpetuates a host of problems such as an entitlement mentality and grade inflation.

Yet we have hope.

For us, hope is about running toward problems with the expectation that we can create a better world. 

The whole world is asking why college has gotten so expensive. Hope College is trying to take the lead in solving that puzzle. We envision a future without tuition, where higher education is funded by generosity.

This isn’t free college, another version of student loans, or an income-shared agreement (ISA). We’re calling it Hope Forward: students will receive their entire education funded by the generosity of others. Then they make a commitment to give to the college every year after graduation. 

No amount is prescribed. We replace bill paying with gift giving, where alumni “pay it forward” so future students benefit from the generosity of those that came before.

We’ve started with a small cohort of students, selected for their passion to be catalysts for change. We’re imagining a citizenry of people motivated by what they can give to the world, not by what they can take. 

This week will be a Catalyst for change, for reshaping a national conversation. Will you join us?

Follow the Money: How Student Loans Derailed American Higher Education

Every student who takes Economics 101 learns the concept of supply and demand—specifically, how a decrease in the supply of a good or resource drives up its cost. We see—even today—how labor shortages and international conflict are decreasing supply and thereby increasing the price of everything from energy to food.

Can supply-and-demand theory also explain the rising cost of attending college? 

The National Center for Education Statistics notes that the cost of a single year of college (at a four-year private institution) is 24 times higher today ($35,830) than it was when early baby boomers graduated in 1969 ($1,487). 

Let’s consider whether this was caused by simple supply and demand challenges: 

  • Are there too few professors?
  • Are universities producing fewer PhD graduates?
  • Are too many students trying to squeeze into small-sized classrooms, with no alternative such as distance education? 

The answer to each of the questions, of course, is no

Neither cost-push inflation, nor demand-pull inflation, explains a 24-fold increase in the price of higher education over just two generations. 

Neither cost-push inflation, nor demand-pull inflation, explains a 24-fold increase in the price of higher education over just two generations. 


The College Board estimates that the annual cost of college textbooks averages $1,240/year. That amount would have paid for an entire year of tuition in 1969.

If supply and demand fail to explain the price increase of higher education, can quality explain it? In other words, if the price of education is 24 times higher, did it get 24 times better?

If we follow the money, we find the answer. 

“Follow the money,” is the most well-known line in 1976’s All the President’s Men, which put the Watergate scandal on the silver screen. 

“Follow the money” is an exercise worth doing when it comes to pricing higher education. Nationally, only about 30 cents of every dollar of tuition is tied to academic instruction (i.e., faculty compensation, classroom expenses, etc.). If that seems low, it’s because it is low. Most of the tuition dollars don’t actually support classroom instruction.


Lenders are in the business of making money, and it’s important to remember that the U.S. federal government makes money through its Plus student-loan programs. In a country where change is always difficult to effect, reforming government programs that actually produce positive returns remains—unfortunately—unlikely. 

The federal government isn’t the only beneficiary, however. 

The widespread availability of student loans is what has enabled universities to increase the sticker price of tuition year after year (after year). Essentially, universities exercised free rein to charge whatever they could and, after distributing merit- and need-based aid, simply directed students toward government loan programs to cover the difference.  


People holding Hope Forward arrows on campus

The writing is on the wall for higher education: colleges and universities are on the path to losing a generation (or more) of future students due to decades of tuition increases that failed to produce better outcomes.

In a previous piece, I wrote that “what’s at stake is nothing less than the competitiveness of the American economy and the broader American Dream.” What’s also on the line, however, is the continued relevance of a college education. 

One spin on a common saying is that “If there’s no solution, there’s no problem.” A real problem exists in the affordability of American colleges, and there ought to be no neutrality in the matter. At Hope College, we started Hope Forward with the goal of changing how students pay for a Hope education. Neither pay-as-you-go nor pay-it-back, Hope Forward aims to fund 100% of a student’s education at Hope College in exchange for giving back to the college after graduation—essentially paying it forward to future students. 

With 22 students in our inaugural cohort, Hope Forward aims to eliminate the financial barriers to attending our college, and enable students to choose the major that interests them most rather than the one they expect to deliver the highest returns relative to their investment. Our primary criterion for selection into the program was neither need nor merit, but rather a desire—stated and specific—to make a positive impact. In turn, we believe this desire for transformative impact creates a higher-quality learning environment.

However, the opportunity for transformation change is much bigger than Hope Forward or even Hope College itself. My deeply-held view is that Hope Forward ought not to be “competitive” from the standpoint of winning student enrollments from other institutions. Rather, my hope is that other colleges and universities will follow our model. 

Why the Four-Year Degree is Still the Best “Pathway Program”

Going to college was never in doubt for me. I grew up in a family that believed in the value of education. My mom had a master’s degree (and was a middle school science teacher by trade) and my dad had a Ph.D. in chemistry.

A picture of Matt and his family as a college studentWhen it came time to select a college, I knew I was going somewhere, but the question I couldn’t answer at that time was how a middle-income family such as my own could afford it. Four years later, I understood—my dad had taken a second mortgage on our home, but even that wasn’t enough. I took on a significant amount of student loan debt in order to graduate from the college I now lead. 

Today, the average sticker price of an undergraduate degree is more than double what it was when I was a student. 


Graph showing tuition at Hope College going up timeEnrollments at 4-year institutions have declined 1-2% annually since 2000 (and even higher since the start of the pandemic). The principal reason? Cost—and the inevitable erosion of ROI as the sticker price climbs higher and higher. 

But as more students thumb their nose at undergraduate degrees, the obvious question becomes, “Where are they going instead?” In addition to taking gap years—a choice that increased during COVID-19—the question has several answers:

  • Bootcamps: Focused on digital skills, bootcamps across North America have graduated more than 100,000 students since 2013.
  • Career and Technical Colleges: According to the Association for Career and Technical Education, more than 3.5 million adults are enrolled in career-oriented training programs.

Given that more than 30 million U.S. jobs do not require an undergraduate degree, it’s not difficult to see the appeal of pathway programs such as these that accelerate one’s entry into high-demand careers. 


Criticisms of the 4-year degree program have many dimensions—that they cost too much, take too long, and don’t sufficiently prepare graduates to enter the workforce. To be clear, many such criticisms are justified, albeit short-sighted. 

But why is some of the criticism unjustified? Because while other types of post-secondary education help students land their first job, the 4-year degree program remains the best path to a career that includes advancement and professional growth. Essentially, colleges and universities play the “long game,” whereby they prepare graduates to become leaders in the workforce and society rather than focusing on the first place of employment.

The importance of playing the long game is rooted in several key facts. First, according to The Atlantic60% of millennials leave their first job within three years of starting. In addition, 65% of kindergartners, according to the World Economic Forum, will go on to work in jobs that don’t yet exist today.

Jobs, and skills required to perform them successfully, will continue to evolve over time, but what will never change is the need for workers who can think broadly, distinguish good data from bad data, lead and mentor teams, and who can chart the path from A to Z, not just A to B.

It’s this A-to-Z path for which the 4-year degree program is best suited, but administrators of colleges and universities must focus on reducing financial barriers so that high school students once again see college as the most viable path to a better future. 


Nonetheless, the value of the 4-year degree must be considered alongside its cost. Most students take on debilitating debt to finance their education, and it’s a nearly $2 trillion national crisis. 

Hope Forward boxes near the Anchor outdoors

That’s why, in July 2021, we announced Hope Forward, which aims to be a new model of financing college education—one that turns the current funding structure of higher ed on its head and bases on generosity and gratitude rather than merit or need. Our rationale for a mission-driven model was simple. Because the high cost of education is such a big problem, tackling it requires big thinking (and big action) from everyone in the Hope College community. 

For these reasons, we felt compelled to pilot this initiative around a small cohort of 22 students whose passions are to:

  • Tackle racial inequality in our healthcare system
  • Leverage social media as a platform to discuss mental health
  • Teach suicide prevention strategies in high schools
  • Support the emotional well being of students in foster care 
  • Break the school-to-prison pipeline among inner-city and immigrant students
  • Reduce homelessness through the creation of more affordable housing 

I can think of no other path to achieving such big goals than one that passes through a college or university, which is why the 4-year degree remains the best “pathway program” for graduating high schoolers. No competing credential exposes students to the same degree of broad thinking, creative problem-solving, and intellectual rigor. 

I can think of no other path to achieving such big goals than one that passes through a college or university, which is why the 4-year degree remains the best “pathway program” for graduating high schoolers.


Most readers will be familiar with the saying, “College isn’t for everyone,” with its pejorative undertones and misplaced sense of superiority. Increasingly, however, graduating high school students are pursuing alternative paths due to nothing other than cost.

In my first article, I asked the question, “How hard are we willing to work to be a land of opportunity for all versus a land of privilege for the few?” To accept the high cost of higher education is to accept that fewer Americans will have the opportunity to be leaders and impact makers than their peers around the world. 

Although the Hope Forward program remains limited to our part of the world in Holland, Michigan, the vision that it represents is so much bigger. My own hope is that others will join us on this path of making college more affordable to all. 

Rethinking the Economic Model of Higher Education

The discussion around improving access to higher education —specifically due to the decades-long price increase of a four-year degree — is typically framed as whether or not college should be free.

The question is more complex than political debates allow for, but let’s start with some facts:

  • College is unaffordable to the vast majority of American families
  • 20% of high school students are considering delaying college—or skipping it altogether
  • 30% have considered taking a gap year between high school and college
  • 73% of high schoolers are eliminating certain colleges from consideration because of the sticker price

Nonetheless, free-vs-not-free is a false dichotomy. And it oversimplifies the issues surrounding who pays for American higher education (and how much).

Student Price Sensitivity Chart showing an increase in percentage of students who eliminated colleges because of published cost, each year from 2017-2021

Here in the United States, rising income inequality has led us to a place where the wealthiest 1% hold more wealth — 15x more — than the bottom 50% combined. Yet, income inequality is a downstream problem. It’s the result of education inequality in which all but the wealthiest families are priced out from obtaining high-quality instruction at an affordable price.

Nonetheless, free-vs-not-free is a false dichotomy. And it oversimplifies the issues surrounding who pays for American higher education (and how much).


The problem, however, with debt-driven financing is that it forces students to take on a daunting financial obligation at a time when many can barely afford gas and insurance for their cars. Moreover, loan repayments begin when a graduate’s earning potential is at its lowest, making it difficult for newly-minted graduates to buy homes or start families — two things that used to be more common among young adults.  

But the implications of financing a college education through debt involve more than just the dollars and cents.  

  • First, students are increasingly comparing debt-to-potential-earnings when choosing a college major. But while the country undoubtedly needs more engineers, it also needs artists, writers, philosophers, social workers, and musicians.
  • Second, in many instances, it is parents who are incurring college debt on behalf of their children. The result is that students have less skin in the game when it comes to accelerating academically, and are less likely to forge their own personal (and lifelong) relationship with the institution.


The proliferation of student loan programs has done little to improve access to affordable higher education.

Triangle chart showing the price of tuition and numbe rof students and that students paying more than $20,000 are paying for their own education and some else's.

That’s because college access remains tightly linked to family wealth. For example, family wealth has a direct relationship with SAT scores which, in turn, leads to the wealthiest students receiving the most merit scholarship money.

Yet, at the same time, the sticker price of tuition isn’t fair to wealthy families either.

That’s because at many places the sticker price of a college education is at least double the average tuition rate. In effect, wealthy families pay twice-over – paying for their own education AND subsidizing scholarships for other students. While we can debate the ethics of such a model, one thing is clear: it isn’t sustainable.


For the 2021-22 academic year, Hope College is piloting a new model of financing a college education called Hope Forward. Hope Forward is a mission-based model where students are selected not on merit, need or ability to pay, but rather their appetite for impact. We are looking for students who want to bring hope to hopelessness.

Under Hope Forward, we do not ask students to pay upfront for their education before they’ve realized any economic benefit. Hope Forward is neither a loan, nor an Income Sharing Agreement (ISA), nor a free education. Rather, it replaces the “pay-it-back” model of college financing (i.e., where money flows to lenders) with one that is based on paying the benefit forward to future students.

Hope Forward arrows held in the Pine Grove in summer

As part of Hope Forward, the student makes a lifelong commitment of donating to the college so that subsequent students can receive the same high-quality education at no upfront cost. Hope Forward fundamentally challenges norms around who pays for higher education — and when they pay it.

Reactions to Hope Forward have ranged from outright praise to guarded skepticism. It is without doubt, however, that we’ve devised a new model that’s putting an end to student debt, and to all of the problems that student debt causes.

I invite you to comment and share your experiences with student debt. What sacrifices did you (or your parents, or your children) make to attend college in America? How might your life be different if you never had incurred student debt?

The overarching theme of all articles in this series is the importance of eliminating student debt as a means of accessing quality education. In my next article, I’ll look at the value and importance of the four-year degree program in the context of “pathway programs” that help young adults land their first jobs in a shorter (and less expensive) timeframe.

To Preserve the American Dream, Improve Access to Higher Ed

The whole world is asking why American colleges and universities have gotten so expensive.

And—it’s an increasingly urgent problem to solve. Since I went to college, the average sticker price of attending a private, four-year college or university has more than doubled. And if the current trajectory continues, my 13-year-old daughter will pay double today’s sticker price by the time she’s a senior in college. Higher education is priceless, but too expensive.


College costs have outpaced inflation by 3.5x

Since 2000, enrollment at four-year institutions has declined 1-2% per year, declining by 5% after the COVID-19 pandemic. A multitude of reasons are behind the drop in enrollment, including declining U.S. birth rates. It’s beyond all doubt, however, that the biggest factor driving lower enrollments is the ever-increasing cost of accessing higher education. 

Critics might point out that most students pay less than the sticker price, but 73% of high schoolers will eliminate certain colleges from consideration because of the sticker price alone, and 20% are considering delaying college—or skipping it altogether.

These facts aren’t exactly a ringing endorsement of higher education and its perceived ROI, but if declining enrollments persist, what’s at stake is nothing less than the competitiveness of the American economy and the broader American Dream.


Fans of the American music duo, Twenty One Pilots, will undoubtedly be familiar with the hit song, Stressed Out—having been streamed on Spotify more than 1.5 billion times. The song broadly addresses the generational concerns of America’s youth, with one notable lyric stating:

Out of student loans and treehouse homes,
we all would take the latter/ladder.

 The words require little interpretation: student loans aren’t a desirable means to a desirable end.

It’s a lesson that not enough university administrators fully comprehend. Shorter, less expensive, “just in time” credentials are becoming increasingly popular at the expense of the more thorough, well-rounded degree. Consider the following about coding bootcamps, as reported in Course Report:

  • The typical cost of a coding bootcamp is $14,000 and takes 3-6 months to complete
  • Coding bootcamps are operating in 85 cities across North America (and many are fully remote and accessible from anywhere)
  • These programs typically graduate 25,000 students per year, accounting for $350 million in tuition revenue

As alternative credentials, such as boot camps, continue to grow in popularity, what’s at stake is much more than just the viability of traditional four-year degree programs.   


In 2019, I assumed the office of President of Hope College. Although I had graduated from Hope nearly two decades prior, the path that led me back to Holland, Michigan, passed through both the public and private sectors. I saw first-hand how economic and financial systems worked differently for different people.

I realized that income inequality is a symptom of the problem of education inequality. Income is the outcome. Increasing costs erodes access to a college education, which increases inequality of the outcome. And, where access is possible, increasing numbers of students (and their parents) are “purchasing” it by taking on insurmountable amounts of debt.

It was these years of work in both government and financial services that forced me to confront a question that is central to our national moment: how hard are we willing to work to be a land of opportunity for all versus a land of privilege for the few?

How hard are we willing to work to be a land of opportunity for all versus a land of privilege for the few?


Globally, obtaining a college degree remains exceptionally uncommon—just 6.7% of the world has done so.  And although that percentage averages 45% in the United States, it is a downward trend in enrollments that poses three critical risks for our country.

  1. National CompetitivenessThriving economies depend on a division of labor that enables workers to specialize in different job functions. With fewer Americans pursuing higher education, we risk losing those skills that are needed to run companies, manage large teams, improve complex processes, and more.
  2. Career Growth PotentialAlternatives to the four-year degree program exist in the form of bootcamps and technical colleges. Although we must acknowledge the value and importance of such options, the overarching tendency of such programs is to get graduates on the fastest path to their first job, not a path to long-term career growth. In other words, the four-year degree remains the most predictable path to upward mobility.
  3. Creativity and Broad Thinking: Jobs, and the skills required to be successful in them, will constantly change as technologies evolve. What will not change, however, is the need for good thinking, creativity, the ability to analyze, and the ability to lead and mentor other human beings. Those abilities are gained most often in the very degree programs that fewer students now pursue. 
Matt Scogin speaking at a podium


For me, the American Dream is not how an average person can acquire wealth, but rather how an average person can make a transformative impact on others. It was with this thought in mind that, in 2018, I applied for the position of President of Hope College. My North Star was—and remains—a desire to change how students access higher education.

This article is the first in a series in which I’ll be exploring the ways that the economics of higher education influence the decisions students make about their education—and what we (as a country) can do to improve access to higher education.

Solving the challenge of access will require the work of many along with the formation of a movement that believes in the cause and has a desire for transformative impact.  I invite you to comment and share your own thoughts, insights, and experiences as we go.

Launching Hope Forward

A college education is priceless, but way too expensive.

Given our Christian mission and our name – HOPE! – we aim to lead the charge toward a new college funding model.

Today Hope College is launching one of the boldest endeavors in higher education. Ever.

Our goal is to provide a transformative Hope education for all students who come through our doors, with tuition fully funded by the generous gifts of others. This, in turn, will free up our graduates to pursue impact, working to make the world a better place rather than working to pay off student loan bills. These alumni will then commit to “pay it forward,” investing in the generations of students who follow them. This is aligned with the core of the Christian gospel — you are covered; now go and live differently.

This is Hope Forward! It’s a college funding model based on the biblical principles of generosity and gratitude. It could change everything.

Hear more about how it works:

To do this in a financially sustainable way, we need to raise a significant amount of money in the endowment. So far, we have raised more than $30 million toward this vision. In addition, this fall our first pilot group of Hope Forward students will join our campus. These 22 students have big hearts, open minds and a God-given passion to bring hope to the world.

We need your help to accelerate this momentum.

Spread the word! Share this message with your friends, family and colleagues on your social media accounts!

Learn more about how you can participate in this bold initiative at hope.edu/forward.

Campus Resources for these heavy times

Campus Community,

As we enter the last few weeks of this Spring 2021 semester, we acknowledge that the past year has been mixed with much pain, division, and hurt.  As many of us were planning on the details of summer research and Fall 2020 details, we were also grieving the brutal murder and killings of many.  Of these, the murder of George Floyd gripped and shook the world–causing many to pause, lament, and wrestle with systems and practices that have subjugated too many based on the physical form God put his divine breathe in.  

While we may not know the precise end of the current Chauvin trial, we do want to remind our campus community of our Mission, Christian Aspirations, and Virtues of Discourse.  We are living in very challenging times–grieving a pre-pandemic life and dealing with the ramifications of racist sins.  

We know there are many different challenges that distinct individuals and groups have weathered during this season–often in disparate manners.  This note both acknowledges the building emotional load we are all trying to carry and shares some resources we continue to provide students, faculty, and staff in light of these challenges.

CDI Resources
CDI will host several virtual townhall meetings targeting students, faculty and staff respectively. CDI staff will be available to assist individual students, as identified, with other supporting departments as appropriate.

CAPS Resources
CAPS has same-day scheduling for appointments – just call the CAPS office at (616-395-7945) to arrange an appointment. There is also an after-hours crisis on-call service available for times when the CAPS office is closed. This service can be reached by calling the CAPS number and following the recorded prompts.

Faculty & Staff Resources
Our Employee Assistance Program has a 24/7/365 hotline available.  Just call 1-800-448-8326 to immediately connect with someone for support.   Here is a newsletter (1Hope login required) focused on identifying resources and methods to help heal in the midst of national and global tragedies.

Spiritual Resources
I. Personal Support: Hope’s Chaplains are available for prayer, conversation, and support for any and all students struggling in this season. Feel free to reach out to Trygve Johnson (johnsont@hope.edu), Jennifer Ryden (rydenj@hope.edu), Jill Nelson (nelsonj@hope.edu), Paul Boersma (boersma@hope.edu), Bruce Benedict (benedict@hope.edu), Nancy Smith (smithn@hope.edu), and Matt Margaron (margaron@hope.edu).

II. Pray the Psalms. Scriptures to pray in times of Lament: The psalms is the prayer book of the Bible, and within the 150 prayers, there are 42 psalms of lament, and thirty of which are individuals psalms of lament, and the rest are communal. In times of deep grief, uncertainty, anger, frustration, these psalms have been a guide for the people of God. It is also a reminder that God can handle our anger and cries of lament for justice. If you are looking for help to know how to pray I encourage you to use these Psalms as a guide for to pray – both individually and with your friends or community corporately.

These Psalms are often helpful for communal prayers of lament: Psalm 12, Psalm 44, Psalm 58, Psalm 60, Psalm 74, Psalm 79, Psalm 80, Psalm 83, Psalm 85, Psalm 86, Psalm 90, Psalm 94, Psalm 123, Psalm 126, Psalm 129.

For individual Laments these are recommended Psalms to guide you in prayer: Psalm 3, Psalm 4, Psalm 5, Psalm7, Psalm 9-10, Psalm 13, Psalm 14, Psalm 17, Psalm 22, Psalm 25, Psalm 26, Psalm 27, Psalm 28, Psalm, 31, Psalm 36, Psalm 39.

III. Create. In times of pain, anger, and personal and communal trial it is often helpful to write your own prayer of lament to God. Following the form of the psalmists, here is a guide for you to use for your own prayer of laments.

  1. Invocation – The initial cry to God to take notice
  2. Complaint – the description of the psalmist suffering against God or some enemy/ies.
  3. Request – the psalmist petitions God to act on the Psalmists behalf.
  4. Expression of Confidence – often a recital of God’s trustworthy characteristics or acts in history.
  5. Vow of Praise – assurance of praise that will follow deliverance.

IV. The Harvey Prayer Chapel is available for you to go and pray individually, or with a Chaplain, or with friends. In the Harvey Prayer Chapel there are resources available, such as journals, Bibles, the Book of Common Prayer and guides for prayers of lament, as well as a prayer wall where you can place your handwritten prayers.

V. Chapel and Worship. Chapels on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays are open for all students. One of the ways we respond as a community in times of trial is we go to God to worship. To focus on God, his character that inspires faith, hope, and love, and our communal virtues of Hope is a resource for you.

Together, we come as servants of the Lord.  We come with a spirit to listen and allow space for the multitudes of ways of grieving and lamenting.  We are dedicated to not retraumatize.  While we are in unknown seas, our hope is in our anchor–the Lord God Almighty.

On behalf of the following offices:
Office of the President
Provost’s Office
Center for Diversity and Inclusion
Campus Ministry
Counseling And Psychological Services
Public Affairs & Marketing

Easter Message

Dear Hope Community,

A colleague recently focused me on the side of the Easter story I am usually too quick to skip over: Jesus’ suffering. The injustice He faced. His death. 

Emotionally, it’s easy to jump to resurrection Sunday and the joy of Easter morning. But the suffering Jesus endured is a vital part of the story.

Perhaps the suffering side of Easter should take on new meaning for all of us this year. The suffering our world has endured over the last twelve months has been undeniable. And Easter tells a story of the God we serve who suffers with us.

On Good Friday, we see a God who suffers first-hand from the grief of losing a loved one – His only son. Many of us have lost loved ones during the last twelve months. Hope College has lost two of our own colleagues: Dianna Machiela in Human Resources and Dr. Jenny Hampton in the Physics Department. Easter depicts a God who knows the pain of loss and endured it Himself. 

The Easter Story also shows a God who is the victim of injustice and oppression. The Old Testament says that God identifies with the poor and oppressed (Proverbs 14:31). The New Testament — especially on Good Friday — goes a step further: God becomes poor and oppressed.

Jesus, the King of Heaven, was born to a poor family in a dirty stall. He was ridiculed, beaten, endured a trial that was a miscarriage of justice, put to death, and buried in a borrowed grave.

Our nation is wrestling with legacies and stories of oppression and marginalization. As the body of Christ, we stand together and lament together.  What’s more, Easter reminds us that no other religion in the world worships a God who Himself was the victim of oppression and marginalization.

So this year, as we celebrate the joy of resurrection Sunday, let’s not forget the suffering of Good Friday. And let’s remember that we serve a God who suffers with us.

Spera in Deo.