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Eliminating Tuition With Entrustment – Episode 005

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AcademicsAdmissionsChristian DiscipleshipThe 3 C'sSattler College Podcast

Eliminating Tuition With Entrustment – Episode 005

What is entrustment? President Johnson sits with Kristi Mast (co-director of student life) and Hannah Watson (sophomore) to discuss the recent announcement that Sattler College will no longer charge tuition, instead entering entrustment agreements with students. They discuss how the new funding model works and how it will affect students and their communities.

They also address the biggest questions on everyone’s mind: What’s the catch? And the ultimate question for the college: will it work?

Learn more about studying business at Sattler College.

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Mentioned in this episode:


0:04 – President Johnson Introduces Entrustment
9:13 – Investment and Dedication in Education
22:04 – Bivocational Education
32:25 – Funding Mechanism and Student Recruitment
40:22 – College Education Funding and Options
51:52 – Eliminating Tuition With Entrustment

Full Description

Ready to be a part of a radical shift in education? President Zack Johnson, Co-Director of Student Life Kristi Mast, and student Hannah Watson unveil Sattler College’s revolutionary replacement for tuition called “Entrustment”. We’re breaking down the walls of traditional financial obligations, and instead fostering relationships built on students’ commitment to service and gratitude. This model encourages a culture of financial gratitude, as alumni are inspired to give back, making this opportunity available for the next generation.

We’re also delving into what happens when we invest in students and inspire their dedication to succeed. We’re sharing the exhilarating journey of a student who worked through college without the burden of tuition, and our audacious goal of global representation by having students from every continent. We discuss our decision to say no to government funding and our commitment to bi-vocational discipleship, placing our trust wholeheartedly in the students. 

We’re on a mission to recruit those who value the kingdom and want to be equipped for service. We dive into the exciting phase two plan that aligns with student’s career goals, providing opportunities for their future. We wrap up with an emphasis on the transformative power of Entrustment and investing in students to fulfill their God-given passions and contribute to the world in a meaningful way. 

Full Transcript

*Auto-generated and may contain errors.

President Johnson: 0:04

It is November 28th 2023. My name is Zach Johnson. You know who I am, and I’m joined by Kristi Mast and Hannah Watson. Welcome, ladies, and maybe you can just give me a little bit of. We’ve had you on the show before, kristi. Who are you? What do you do? What are you about?

Kristi Mast: 0:24

My name is Kristi Mast. I am the co-director of Student Life. I’m all about discipleship, specifically women’s discipleship and thriving in the kingdom, but not men’s discipleship. You know, it’s just a very concerned.

President Johnson: 0:38

Hannah, who are you? What do you do? What are you about?

Hannah Watson: 0:41

I am a student, a sophomore, here at Sattler. I’m studying biblical and religious studies and I’m also doing the education major through Indiana and Westland.

President Johnson: 0:49

Double major.

Hannah Watson: 0:50

That’s me.

President Johnson: 0:51

Yeah, that’s Hannah. I think you’re one of the first students to test that out, so we should actuallywe should invite you back on to talk about that experience sometime. I’d love to share and I’m also joined in the room by Graham Weaver, but he’s not on camera. But, ladies, you can wave to Graham and say hi, graham, and we’ll try to bring him in here a little bit. So today is an interesting version of the podcast because I’m trying to flip it where I want to talk and I want you to interview me. But it’s going to be funny because I’m still going to be reading a few things here about something called intrustment Ooh, ooh, whoa, graham, intrustment. So I thought I’d start off by just reading a news wire that our dear friend Clark Ray wrote out, and we’re trying to get this in the news and tell our story a little bit here. And this podcast is just going to be part of that telling the story of intrustment and trying to inject that into the DNA of the institution. Sound good, that’s awesome. Any questions? All right, this is the title Headline Sattler College eliminates tuition with intrustment.

Kristi Mast: 2:03

Whoa, whoa Eliminates. Yeah, that’s crazy.

President Johnson: 2:08

So when you look at our placeholder website, sattleredu slash intrustment the top of the website, it says intrustment and then we’re still trying to figure out how to pronounce this it says tuition with its strike through.

Kristi Mast: 2:24

So tuition.

President Johnson: 2:26

Right Tuition, and so I’ve been really pushing the marketing team that the name of this is not intrustment tuition, because the two are oxymorons. One is intrustment is replacing tuition. It’s not that we’re. I’m really actually trying to take the word tuition and wipe it off the institution’s face and stomp on it.

Hannah Watson: 2:45

Oh, wow.

President Johnson: 2:46

Really eliminate it, at least for the next decade or under my presidency? Does that make sense? Love that All right. So here we go and then. So I’m going to, I’m going to walk you through the basics of intrustment and I’m still learning how to talk about this, but I understand it and so I’ve been actually in the field socializing this idea as well, and so I talk about it. And then I have feedback and I’ve had some. I have some notes about some feedback people have given me and I hope we can just talk about it and tell a story. Sound good. Doesn’t sound good. So here’s the idea Intrustment is basically where the college, rather than inting into a contractual relationship with a student where we say we charge you tuition in order to receive your education, we enter into more of a relationship with a student, some would say a covenant, like Hope College in Michigan. But we’re avoiding the word covenant because it’s a little strong and there are severe ramifications to covenant breaking biblically. That our board is like you should probably not use that word, so we didn’t use the word covenant. But that is the dichotomy, like contract versus relationship. So instead of tuition we’re saying hey, if you get accepted and you commit to what we want from our students, and that’s basically like dedicate yourself to academics and be hungry for discipleship and service. So if you meet those two criteria, you’re willing to work hard and you want to really commit yourself to God and His kingdom, we won’t charge you tuition, but we’ll trust you and trust you to make two basic commitments. One is a commitment to kingdom service. This is a nebulous commitment. At this point I’ve heard feedback. What is kingdom service? And it’s basically a lot of different things. It can be from homeschooling mothers to stay at home moms to doctors, to businessmen, to computer scientists. So it’s a broad scope, but it’s very directed, intentional decision making with what you want to do with your life. So that’s one, a commitment to kingdom service, and the second is a commitment to financial gratitude. And so this is kind of a unique way of saying hey, in order for the college to actually be around in 30 years, we need our alumni to actually give back to the college. We’re saying give what you can when you can to make the opportunity available for future students. And so, rather than billing that to students, we’re saying, hey, give back what you can when you can. Another way of saying it is pay it forward. Except the word pay. We’ve thought about this very intentionally. There’s no legal obligation, so it really is a gift. Give it forward when you can, what you can, because the college can’t legally come after anyone that’s like, ah, I don’t really want to do that. So those are the two principles. Do you want me to keep going? Any questions?

Kristi Mast: 5:53

So what is the? What do students actually sign up for, like, what are they actually committing to? With the interestment model you said it’s not legal, it’s not a covenant.

President Johnson: 6:09

I call it an agreement, a student agreement. So all of our students sign an agreement to be part of the college. This is not a crazy agreement that basically says we’ll abide by your community policies. So we have things in our student agreement. You’ve seen it, kristy, because you are the co-director of student life. It’s like don’t break alcohol on campus, don’t do drugs, like a lot of the basics like agreements. But this is basically saying hey, by taking this entrustment offer, you agree that you’re generally in line with serving the kingdom and generally you’re willing to pay, give back what you can when you can, and you’re willing to sort of sign your name on a line that says I’ll try to do this. And it’s kind of hard because we’re not trying to handcuff people, but we’re also trying to communicate. We really need you to follow through on this, and so it’s not like we’re binding you to this, but we also really need you for us to make it in the future. So does that make sense? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, and our dream is actually that over time, our alumni this will be like an annual thing where our alumni can get together and be like hey, remember that time we spent with each other that one time in Boston. Oh, and remember that we all agreed to honor with financial gratitude or generosity. Let’s remind ourselves of that and give back. And we’re really. I’ve talked to the president of Hope College, so Hope College calls this Hope Forward. You should look it up. They got Malcolm Gladwell to come and interview about them. And we’re doing something very similar, but they’re hoping that their alumni engagement is way stronger than your average institution, because we’re praying that people are doing this out of joy and, like I want to do this because I had such a good experience. So it’ll actually help us create a great program so that we delight our students, so to speak, and that hopefully a lot of our students will actually be much more tethered in a good way back to the institution.

Kristi Mast: 8:21

Yeah, and just as you’re describing that, especially the idea of alumni engagement, there’s the two principles right kingdom service and financial gratitude, and how I’m just thinking about how exciting that is to think of coming back together with your classmates every year, every five years, whatever the interval is, and talking about not only the financial gratitude piece but also the kingdom service, Like what are you doing with your life right now? And I don’t know, I’m just picturing this like moment of fresh inspiration and kind of adrenaline pumped into your veins of seeing these people that you you had this really informative experience with and the ways that they’re pouring out their lives should the kingdom Right and hopefully some people are doing it together.

President Johnson: 9:02

Yeah, that’s the dream. Yeah, that it’s like this is a network thing, opportunity, make connections, go do really meaningful things together. Yeah.

Hannah Watson: 9:13

When I first hear it, I just think like I’m so honored and valued by the idea that people want to invest in me and they, like, think that I’m valuable enough.

President Johnson: 9:21

That’s true. We do want to invest in you.

Hannah Watson: 9:23

I’m glad that I’m valuable enough that you want to like pour resources into me, like without any expectations attached, necessarily outside of like doing my best and being committed to like striving hard at school and then wanting to serve later, and it just like actually makes me want to give back more. When I hear that, I just think like, wow, I love this, I love that I’m being invested in, and then I want to give it back. So it totally is inspiring that in me just to hear it.

President Johnson: 9:44

Great, yeah, well, I’ll keep. I’ll go on a little bit more of a rant and then you can pester me with questions, sound good.

Kristi Mast: 9:51

That sounds awesome yeah.

President Johnson: 9:54

When you look at our website, one of the things that the first headline is it says dedication, not debt. That he or when. When I talk about this, a lot of people are actually like they boil it down. They’re like what I’m hearing you say is it’s free tuition, it’s free F R, e, E. And I I actually have started slapping people’s wrists very gently, on my staff and at campus when they use the word free, because I’m trying to get at this point that hey, really in the background there are people breaking their backs to make this happen and it’s not. There’s no free lunch, right? This whole idea that it’s not just a cakewalk. And so people have been saying, like how are you going to filter students, who who get this opportunity? Because this is for every single accepted student. It’s not like we’re we’re delineating between one or the other, and I’ve just been saying that Soutler’s program in general requires some levels of dedication, true or false.

Hannah Watson: 10:55

Hi levels of dedication.

President Johnson: 10:57

Through Through True, grand, true or false? Yeah, there’s. When we do surveys of our student, the one word that gets used the most is rigorous. So rigorous, I once said, I’ve. Once I said why don’t we just call it tear-jerking academic stance? We didn’t Soul crushing, but we are looking for students who are dedicated. Yeah, and not that a variety of people aren’t worthy of investment, but we’re look, our program itself is sort of a filter. So when I give a tour of Soutler, we had Dr Schumann on. We’re the only college in the country where Greek and Hebrew are still part of the core curriculum, even if you’re a biology student, computer science, business, which is different. So we’re, we’re hoping that that dedication piece is almost a self-filter for who comes into it. And so that’s been one question that people have raised is like, are you not just saying how are you not just going to give this away to somebody who just kind of wants a degree? Does that make sense? That our our acceptance, and we’re not changing our acceptance requirements or admissions requirements. We’re keeping it there, but we’re still asking our students to dedicate themselves, and I’m praying that not only will it, will we get students, but able to enable better dedication, absolutely when, like, maybe people won’t be thinking about paying tuition and they’ll be thinking about hey, how do I learn more here? Not that having a job in a part-time study isn’t a good time, but we’re trying to sort of relieve that. Burden from students Makes sense Dedication, not that.

Kristi Mast: 12:28

Yeah, totally, and Hannah, you have. You’ve done this. Actually, you worked in order to be able to pay your tuition. I would.

Hannah Watson: 12:37

I don’t know if you have any thoughts on that. Yeah, I went to school before coming to Sattler at just a community college and I worked like 35 or 40 hours a week and I would just like pick up random jobs, like I worked like super early in the morning for a couple hours and then would run the classes and cram in a couple of classes and then sprint off to work again in the afternoon and then do school all evening and it was like very stressful and I also just felt like I couldn’t really engage well with the academics because there was just something else on my mind all the time, like I had to be able to pay for this somehow, and so just knowing that there’s like the freedom to actually dig deep into classes and not have that financial burden is a big big deal, big, big deal.

President Johnson: 13:13

You’re good, and then I’ll just chime in with my own experience. I went to a service academy where I got paid to go to school, so I was one up. I’m not being all of you, but there is this actually idea that some people are like you couldn’t pay me enough to go through that experience, because it was super intense. You were up at five in the morning, a lot marching to breakfast in the snow, and some people are like I don’t want that. That’s not exactly what we’re trying to get at with our students, but it’s somewhere in that spectrum of hey, we’re asking you to take on much more of a load than your average student, so we’re asking for dedication, but we don’t want to put you in debt. For it Makes sense, yeah, a lot of sense Good, and then let’s keep going down here. The other thing I wanted to talk about is our international students. All right, we’ll think about this. I haven’t written this down but I’m hoping it makes its way into our next line of thinking and at a given point in time I want Siler to be able to say we have students from every continent. Australia is a stretch. I’m working on it. Still no anyone knows anyone from Australia interested. And South America is actually the next hoping to go recruit down there. We have student do any of you can you list the countries our students are from currently in this last round just across the student body?

Hannah Watson: 14:44

Uganda, Kenya, US, Canada. Do we have other places?

President Johnson: 14:48

India, Ukraine, Mexico, Canada, All over the place, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe. So we have a really unique goal here that, when you look at education, one of the things that people say about a college degree is they say it’s a great equalizer, that you can take somebody from Zimbabwe or Kenya or Uganda, India, someone from Rochester, Minnesota, someone from Hutchinson, Kansas, someone from Canada, Ontario, Water, Ontario, oh, Water, Ontario’s right Okay. And that the college experience equalizes you-ish and then provides you with similar opportunities. And so one of the critiques not critiques are just pestering that I’ve received in the field is will there be some sort of mental or I’ll call it a social debt that a student takes on by accepting this when they leave, when they’re like I am gonna take a job, that I’m not gonna make any money and I won’t be able to pay it back? Is that okay? When I make the joke, I hope some students do that, but I also hope somebody becomes a billionaire. This gives back a ton of money or time because they believe in what’s happening here. So I’m trying to basically say that it’s okay for different sets of outcomes on the backend without a copious amount of social debt that’s attached to. I actually can’t give back, and some people have been just thinking about that. Even some alumni have been saying I’m not really sure I want this lifetime commitment back and so maybe we can just torture out how to think through this. Some students I just got off a phone call with a prospective student. She said my parents gave me money to go to college. Can I just pay it all up front and be done with it and just not even have to think about it? I was like sure, why not wait and sort of go through it? We’re not asking you of that. So how many think about like this equalizing effect that this will have during the college career, the college years, plus how we as an institution are sort of giving people permission not to take on purely lucrative careers, and how to more equalize and be okay with students that go out having different life paths. Does that make sense? Help me think about it and how to communicate it.

Kristi Mast: 17:22

I think for me the kingdom service part is what is so key here and I know like when you hear that you probably think Bible translator, missionary, that kind of thing. But I think the way that we’re that I understand that is so much broader than that and I think if we truly believe that Christ’s kingdom is made up of the church, and of his people everywhere. then the businessman who is not practicing extractive business practices but actually productive in and is doing business in a way that is advancing the kingdom by impacting people’s lives and also making a lot of money and being able to give back. That’s enabling his classmate who is going to deepest, darkest Africa to translate the Bible into language that has never been in before. And I think part of this is that we’re so used to thinking very individualistically, in kind of the Western mentality, but I don’t think that’s the way that the gospel teaches us to think, but it teaches us to think much, much more broadly and that we’re all more connected. I don’t know if that gets at what your question is.

President Johnson: 18:41

I think it’s more. I mean it’s more of how do you, how do you approach the students in a way that they don’t have a social debt to actually take on a job where they feel indebted to pay back financially? And really trying to hammer in this idea like it’s a paradox, because I’m saying I don’t want you to make a decision to make a lot of money. If you wanna go be a missionary in a third world country like India, ie, we have students doing that, that’s good, we want you to do that. However, it’s also okay if you go and take on your family’s business and maybe generate more revenue. I’m just gonna say, like financial revenue and like really having the conversations with students, like we like both of those, but we still need we still will need some people to contribute back over time, and so it’s kind of a there’s a paradox. There’s somebody on staff. Somebody on staff brought up the point and they’re like in theory, it’s a great idea, but what if all your alumni just pull off the Hudson Taylor move and they’re like I’m not even gonna make a salary, I’m gonna live on prayer and will we be able to sustain the institution of every single alumni? Can’t give back a dollar and I was like unlikely that that will happen, but we’ll still make it happen. So help me think about that. I’m just ranting, yeah.

Hannah Watson: 20:10

I think one thing that you brought up earlier is like you’re dealing with a diverse group of students here who have like a plethora of interests, and so you’re gonna have people who are like genuinely interested in the family business for like the sake of doing business. They love that. That gives them life. And then you’re gonna have people who are really, really excited about going to Uganda because that gives them life and that’s like what Florida’s called them to. So I think, like, as you approach and each student who comes through the doors as like a unique individual where their interests are valued and like encouraged and supported, you’re gonna get people who are going to pursue all sorts of different things, because we’re different, unique individuals, you know, got it.

Kristi Mast: 20:44

Yeah, yeah. I think this makes so much sense to me when I think about it from first from the perspective of the kingdom and then second from the perspective of finances, because if you truly believe you’re not your own person, but that at the same time God has uniquely given you things to do in the world, I think both of those perspectives and it’s not like you’re not your own person, you’re a settler, college’s person, it’s like you belong to the kingdom of God. And so my father, for example, is an incredible businessman. He’s made a lot of money across the course of his life and he’s been incredibly generous with that, and his legacy is schools in India and one of his dear friend of his I don’t know if he’s ever worked a traditional job. He’s been a full-time pastor, missionary, church planter, and he’s able to do that because of my father exercising his gifts to the fullest. My dad would not make a great church planter person out there on the frontier, but his friend Sam is just incredible with that work and they’ve almost partnered together to make the kingdom come in India in a way that my dad could have never done on his own and Sam could have never done on his own. I think that perspective of everybody exercising their gifts to their fullest is what makes this vision work for me.

President Johnson: 22:11

Yeah, yeah, and I’m trying to get at this idea that when I talk about settler, often there’s like a oh, you’re a Bible college, like that’s basically what you’re doing. I talk about like the biblical core and people are like, oh, bible college. And I’m trying really hard to say like I understand why that’s the perspective, because in general there’s what’s happened. Is there’s sort of this distinction between Christian and professional Christian? and like the professional Christians would be the type of people who take Greek and Hebrew and church history and it’s sort of the load is on their shoulders to Go to seminary, be pastors, I think. I think that’s not always the case, but in some worlds there’s that distinction. But we’re trying to like kind of tilt that horizontally and say, hey, everybody is biblocational, like everybody, every student should have this skill set. And there he is. Yeah, it’s okay that. And then so when I’m pitching this to like businesses, I’m trying to say like, hey, if you that we’ll talk about this later. But I’m trying to say, what if you sponsored a student through the college and help them pay for room and board? This is a side conversation and they come and work for you afterwards and, like people’s, people are starting to think about, oh, this is an amazing opportunity and. I’m trying in the future to get even more investment in these young years and Like a mobilization, so that people are like wow, I feel like people are messing me, I can take everything on, but does it make sense that in general, like it’s open to a wide swath of students and there’s these two principles of service and gratitude, but then afterwards we’re not like policing what people are gonna do afterwards? And so we expect doctors, we expect missionaries, we expect teachers, computer scientists, right.

Kristi Mast: 24:12

Yeah, and if we trust the education and the discipleship enough, then I Mean we we’re trusting both our students and our process right, that we will equip excellent computer scientists who are able to go out there and be really successful, excellent businessmen who are gonna be able to go out there, be really successful, but also who are not only gonna be great professionals but they’re gonna be truly bivocational disciples who also are great citizens of the kingdom and whose lives are oriented around that and that’s it’s. It’s kind of a. I feel like this is a vote of confidence not only in our students but also in in the whole Souther experience that we were trying so hard. That’s our old goal is to make is to help people become these bivocational people, and I feel like this this model is is another vote of confidence in that direction and and kind of commitment to that bivocational Students and graduates great.

President Johnson: 25:14

Yeah, I agree. All right, let’s talk about the strings attached, which are none I so, basically, I think people are like, oh, what’s the catch for that? What strings are attached? And One I just want to be upfront right now, students are still paying for room and board, unless you’re married or like over the age of 30. I think is the policy. So we charge students about $980 a month right now. Per month, I think. We charge them for 10 months, so that’s 9,800, and they live down in back bay. That’s a string. It’s not a completely cost-free environment yet. So, per string any questions about that? That sounds high. If you don’t live in Boston, I promise you it’s a good deal. We seller still subsidizes the cost to live downtown for a lot and we’re hoping to Not lose money on our room and board someday, but we still do so. String number one is room and board. We’re still not giving that out or not giving Granting, yeah, granting that out. String number two you have to be enrolled in an undergraduate or certificate program at the college. Makes sense, seems fair. And then An interesting String is that we don’t have strings to anybody else, especially the government.

Kristi Mast: 26:37

It’s kind of interesting right.

President Johnson: 26:38

So I think I’ll talk to the about this we’re. I was just at a, a conference for accreditation. I won’t name any names, but just a. I don’t know if people want me talking about them. We’re one of the only accredited Christian colleges that takes zero federal funds, even the Pell Grant, and so some people, some people are like you’re crazy, that’s free money, and I still waver on that and will probably evaluate that decision. So and I was also at a meeting with the, with the state of Massachusetts, with the governor, and they invited big wig from Washington to talk about how the government and education are a linked sort of intrinsically. And there there’s a big threat right now To institutions locally. It’s because a case went to the Supreme Court about Should colleges be able to use race and admissions and went to the Supreme Court and they got Got overturned and so now colleges can’t use a certain standard, and so there’s a bunch of people like, oh, we gotta, we gotta really make sure that the government and education is like linked and we’re providing all these mechanisms. My theory is like, more than ever, we need to be, especially as a Christian community, doubling down on making sure that we have institutions that don’t rely on federal funding, because the the the word that I always that the phrase is if you take someone’s shackles, you take their shackles, and that’s like not that, that’s not like. I’m not trying to like point fingers that in the other institutions they’re like, oh, you’re shackled to the government, because I think that they’re not necessarily. But we’re doing this all funded by private, private giving private donations, and None of it comes from the government, and so I think that’s really important to talk about that. We are doing this on our own. We have accreditation requirements, we get audited often and people look at our finances, make sure we’re okay. So we still have to abide by set of standards, but that’s exciting too. Yeah, any yeah so any thoughts on those strings or non strings?

Kristi Mast: 28:51

I think what’s also exciting especially about the last item about Shackles and shackles right where this is usually institution is in trusting themselves to Students, to alumni, to graduate right, and that’s, I think, also a powerful, a powerful, a step of trust in in our students and in our alumni and our graduates that we’re not depending on, but that we’re depending on on you to keep to keep the college moving forward. And that’s just really exciting to me to give that, that power in that Authority to, to our graduates.

Hannah Watson: 29:31

Yeah, yeah. I think there’s like this idea of like this big diffusion of responsibility when you have like big linkages with people that can provide Resources and it’s like, oh, that’s their job, not my job, and hearing that, no, actually, once I leave Sattler, like there’s a need here that I can give and support. Like that’s something I want to be a part of because I love Sattler right, and I want to support that.

President Johnson: 29:51

So I wanted to just talk a little bit more about funding, because people have questions how does Sattler fund this initiative? So let’s think about this. I I I recently interviewed another institution who were I was very inspired by this institution I’m not gonna name its name and in order to switch their whole campus over to this Pay it forward model I’ll use that as a placeholder they had to raise up, or they need to raise, a billion dollar endowment. Oh how? Because of how reliant Institutions of higher ed have been on tuition revenue, and so we’re at a point in our journey. We were it’s 2023. We were proved in 2016. First class showed up. 2018 were five years in and so we’re not. We were looking at the numbers. We could basically say we could do this next year if we play our cards right and flip everybody onto this like overnight, and that’s really important to me, that every single person gets invited into this and the way that we are doing it. I just thought I’d tell you about it because it’s also important to me. Our, our revenue or our contributions come primarily from a Company that was it’s very profitable, but they follow a and non accumulation profit model, where their profits are sent to a something called a donor advice fund, and Then that donor advice fund it’s a Christian donor advice fund then Exams a series of nonprofits that that money that gets distributed to, and so we actually have an irrevocable pledge from a company to fund us and Make this possible and a lot of people. What I want to talk about is that some people think that I’m gonna be try to be a little bit nebulous here without naming names, because I don’t want to get into names that think that there’s somebody who says I Get to, I get to fund this out where, or I don’t, and they make that decision sort of four times a year. It’s actually a illegal, binding, illegally like binding gift. It’s called an irrevocable pledge, and so that’s as. It’s actually as good as as a, if not better than, tuition in my mind.

Hannah Watson: 32:08


President Johnson: 32:08

And so that’s how we’re funding it and it’s it’s sort of through the efforts of a lot of people At yet the people who get to decide where the profits go. That’s obviously made possible through our founding, our founding team, and I think it’s an incredible opportunity. Any questions about that funding mechanism and how we’re making it happen?

Kristi Mast: 32:29

Yeah, you said it’s better than tuition. I think I’m missing the connection as far as is more reliable than tuition.

President Johnson: 32:35

So I I got on the call with a college president a Massachusetts college president, and I was. I was basically Explaining our situation and how I can begin to give people confidence and our sustainability, and I explained this pledge and and he’s like that’s Really better than a lot of colleges have when they rely on Can students make the payments on a regular basis? Can they not, will they withdraw? And so we are not reliant on tuition never have been and so we’re very Sustained by a very committed structure and we actually, in a weird way it’s it’s good and bad because we have we’ve been able to make whether the storm of like, we don’t have like 80 students to pay tuition To cover all our costs, and so, in my mind, it’s more resilient than tuition. However, it’s a consolidated source and so there are pros and cons of like, oh like. What happens if, like World War three, like there’s all these scenarios that are like, is this sustainable? And so I’m gonna talk about Sustaining it in the future, but I just wanted to talk about how we make it possible in the present and, yeah, any questions about that?

Kristi Mast: 33:50

No, that makes a lot of sense, yeah.

President Johnson: 33:53

And so you? Another important thing to know is we are approved by accreditors and the state of Massachusetts to operate, and I don’t think a lot of people understand how, how much work goes into being approved by those regulating authorities. Yeah, and so I often like to say like, hey, every year I sit down with some intense people Two of two sets of people over actually adding a third here Some time in the third and they like look at our books and our audits and they’re like are we sustainable? They’re like, oh, yeah, you sustainable. So I like to give people a vote of confidence in that and that, and so for the future, I do have more goals that up to this point, I think we’ve had like 25 individuals who have contributed to the college over its lifetime. My goal is that entrustment is actually gonna really increase the, the quantity of contributors. So I Think every student I want to be contributing. So, in trust minutes, like give what you can when you can. I want every staff member to be contributing and every board member to be contributing, and so we’re really trying to say, hey, this is sort of a I’m not, I’m gonna be worth a crowd source. It’s a little bit of a dirty term, but this is really gonna be sourced through the whole community as opposed to so. In the future, I’m hoping to grow that, that quantity, and I think. I think if we have a good product, that it’s gonna work.

Kristi Mast: 35:23

Yeah, yeah and then yeah, I think it is. It’s like the proof. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. And if I know as a settler grad, my experience here was phenomenal and if I know that settler Once and is asking for my investment, then it’s really powerful to be able to get back and and pay it forward right the.

President Johnson: 35:47

The other thing I want to talk about is In our language, when we announced this, the thing that threatens that we’re most it’s it’s actually ironic. It’s finding the right students to fit the institution. When I explain what settler has happened here, we were one of the only institutions that didn’t grow out of our backyard. So a lot of colleges they start and then they recruit locally and then eventually they expand. There’s a few exceptions to that. We have, like I Think, only one homegrown Massachusetts student is. That is that right there. There might be a couple students here there who families live here now. But and so last year I like to talk to people that that my year, last year, was really deciding to be a non-affiliated Christian school that doesn’t affiliate with any single church, and so we’re non-denominational. I like to use the word interdenominational. Now I’ve read it in an article. I’m like I like that a little bit better than non-denominational, because there are, there’s a set of, there’s a set of doctrines that bind the people together that would come here, but how, how do we find the right people To come here? Grant that. So I’m asking, like the, I’m asking what we asked everybody that’s a cabin recruit the right students to this and yeah. I did want to just kind of communicate on the podcast that when you look at our board, we have sort of a conservative and a Baptist constituency. That’s very obvious throughout the institution. And then we have a I don’t even know a Parallel set of people that align really well with some of what the early in a Baptist thought. Like the church I attend Attendance would be in this group of it’s called fallers away. It’s like parallel but not the same and can collaborate well. And then we have this new branch of people that I’m really trying to to go after. That’s like, hey, I want to find students who hold the Bible in a high esteem and and we’re willing to sort of engage more broadly, a little bit more broadly without doing going too broad in terms of students we’re recruiting here. Does that make sense that there’s like generally, we’re not trying to just serve one constituency, we’re trying to open this up to more people. Any questions there? It is a big question. I just want to make sure that people understand we’re we’re trying to grow the diversity with of our institution a little bit more than we’ve traditionally seen any questions. So it’s it’s open to more students is what I’m trying to communicate.

Kristi Mast: 38:29

Yeah, do you have any more descriptors? Descriptors for that kind of like third group, that’s broader, like what? Who are the students? Who are the people that you’re looking for there?

President Johnson: 38:38

Yeah, it’s, it’s really hard to write it down. I would say it’s the kind of student that Kind of has a radical approach to Christianity and it’s like, yeah, I’ll go learn Greek and Hebrew, oh, and Like, if I see a woman wearing a dress and a headache covering, I won’t run away. In the opposite direction, it’s the kind of person that likes to entertain I some ideas they might have heard about, about like, what does it mean to love your enemies, christians and politics? Maybe we, maybe the kingdom, wasn’t born to be in the left or the right. Maybe it’s supposed to be something different. So it’s someone that’s sort of willing to entertain these ideas but not necessarily committed to them before they show up. It’s not like so that’s another thing. We don’t have anybody, we don’t enforce church requirements or standards. We don’t do any of that here at the college, and so it’s more of like an openness to Ideas and the high esteem for the Bible, mm-hmm. And then I would even chime in like the Bible as not being like a Topic of Latter-day Revelation, that like we should be progressing with society and culture. It’s more of like this fight for original truths of hey, the truth is unkillable. It was handed down by Jesus and that’s basically the set of people. But I would even say that, like, a lot of our faculty fit that, fit that category of people. So that’s, if you can think about our faculty, mm-hmm, a lot of our faculty members kind of looking at that type of person. Go look at who teaches here, and that should give you a good glimpse. Does it make sense?

Kristi Mast: 40:18

Yeah, that’s super helpful. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and I think it. We talked about this Few episodes ago when I was on the podcast. Before that, we’re not. This isn’t like a place that we are trying to like punch out these molds of. Indoctrinate indoctrinate students. Right like we. We do want this to be. It’s obvious that there’s. I mean, you look at our founding precepts. They’re unique among the broader kind of evangelical world, so there’s gonna be unique flavor and unique twist. But it’s not like we’re looking to have cookie cutter graduates that all line up exactly to this right and exact standard.

President Johnson: 40:57

That word’s kind of a dirty word indoctrination but it’s actually a use, it’s actually kind of what Christ it’s calling us to do. So you don’t want to like step away from it too much, because there are lines that were like this is there are black and whites that we stand for, not that, but you. That’s exactly right, chrissy, that we don’t have to like agree to all these things to be a student here. But you kind of have to like be like I want to learn more and be an environment that challenges me, and things like that Make sense. Canada, that makes sense. Yeah, graham, makes sense. All right, the next thing I want to talk about is a Little bit of a story, and when I announced this as a student body, I said this was phase one and I want to talk a little bit about phase two and some some of the things I’m dreaming about for the future. Just as I pitched this to you, this is more like a dream, not a promise. So this next conversation is non-binding, non-promising. Can you give all the like this? Just give all the disclaimers now? So originally last year in February, the board came up with a, a proposal that they were basically going to be three tracks through the college. One was going to be your traditional Free, free agent student you pay, you get to the degree, you leave, we give you financial aid, ba-ba-ba-ba, nice, like very traditional. The second was going to be called what we were going to be calling like a oh man, I can’t even remember the word for it because there wasn’t a good word it was like a bound to your home church Through the college. You’re not a free agent. You have a commitment to somebody who’s like blessing you to come and you return there and there’s like, and there’s sort of an agreement between you and a home community that you’re not just like leaving what you came from and you’re like we’re still interconnected. Does that make sense? What’s a good word for that? It’s like Sent yeah, I’m mentioning yeah, sent. So and then the third track was what was called a service track, where we basically said this track is gonna be for a group of students who make some sort of agreement with, like, an organization or a church or a business or a nonprofit, and They’ll actually fund your tuition in exchange for some sort of commitment on the tail end after you graduate. And so Basically, this year the board tried to just simplify it and say, all right, let’s just start by, entrustment will be the baseline, and then phase two is where I’m approaching people and saying, all right, hey, what if you were to approach a business, a church, a mission, or I approach them I know it’s it’s hard to level this purely on the students and Will fund the college, will fund the tuition, cost of tuition. What if, like, a group funds that cost a room and board and that the student gets this whole package deal where they’re barely Maybe not paying a dollar out of their own pocket, but then they commit to something More specific on the back. Then a little bit more concrete about like, hey, I want to go work at this business for four years or I want to go be a doctor. Is that becoming your reaction to this whole, like it could be like an eight-year commitment, which is kind of scary. It could be. You could negotiate it a little bit differently, but some students have made agreements that go teach at different schools coming through and I’m like man, I want more about to happen because I think it’s a good deal. Any reactions to that idea?

Kristi Mast: 44:38

It’s counter-cultural, but then it also flows with the culture, because people make eight-year commitments all the time when they decide that they’re gonna be a doctor or you know all these other kind of rigorous career paths. It’s counter-cultural, cultural and the fact that it we’re not used to making big commitments like that, or long those, those commitments can feel really long. But I also think that so many young people are trying to figure out what in the world to do with their lives and this could be really, really freeing to say I am gonna decide now and I’m gonna commit to doing really good work for business, for a school, for a, an organization. And I get excited about that idea, especially that if students have the option to do something like that, that’s huge, both for organizations and for individuals.

Hannah Watson: 45:34

Yeah, for me, the idea of being able to be connected with something that is gonna like align with what I want to do, anyway, it’s really exciting. So, if there could be a connection with I want to teach, so if there could be a connection with like, yeah, you could go teach at this school and they’ll fund your room and board, whatever, that is really exciting because it’s really facilitating the thing I would have to do anyway and giving me a jumpstart even on that opportunity. That’s like, that’s really really exciting.

President Johnson: 45:56

Right now is my wife will probably she’s probably annoyed me because I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ve got an idea. I’ve got an idea work. So my parents were missionaries and self-supported missionaries. And there’s actually another idea that students you could imagine raising support to pay the cost of room and board. It’s not that crazy of a cost. If it 980, 9,800 times 4, that’s I will under 40k. That’s feasible to raise for a student in like four years. If you didn’t want to work in that Sede in exchange for this, I’ll do XYZ. So I just think it’s possible to even like hone in on this even more, and one of my passions is that More young people will be mobilized in their best years to be doing Very formative work that will stick with them forever and Hopefully they’ll they’ll like latch on to it. I always think about other systems in the world. You look at the military. They’re investing it in 18 year olds and they’re pouring so much money into them, so much time, so much training, and then People are like oh, it makes sense, because our nation’s security depends on this, and that’s kind of where I’m trying, really, as an institution, to start thinking about this a little differently, where it’s like hey, hey, christians who care about the, the commission and our role, let’s like invest in these years a ton more than we currently are and Expect that there’ll be like a bunch of good things that come afterwards. Does that make sense? And there’s some churches out there. I like to talk about the Mormon Church and it’s like they’re. I think they’re phenomenal and their mobilization and their, their reach on the planet. Anyway, I I was inspired myself by the Mormon Church and their two-year service Requirements for a lot of their young people and I was like man, they’re taking over the world. Yeah, we got. We got a jump in there. Anything I missed? I Think we hit a lot of the big, the big things Intrustment. Souther college eliminates tuition with entrustment.

Kristi Mast: 48:19

Yeah, makes sense, yeah, makes sense. I would love to hear a little bit more about, like why now and why Sadler? Like, why does this fit with specifically with Souther’s mission and why, in this specific moment in time, is this, is this compelling?

President Johnson: 48:36

for me. Well, so why now? And why Sadler? So I’ve been having this idea. When I look at charging people To it money for character formation, it’s very counterintuitive to me because I think a little of this comes out of my own DNA, where I Told the story when my middle sister, when my parents were still in Ecuador. My middle sister got accepted into a very expensive private Christian school in Texas I won’t even name the name and they sent the bills down to us and we lived on like zero dollars. We went, my parents went into debt to pay for my sister to go. So I was a freshman when that was happening and so I Noted to myself I was like I will never ask my parents for a dime to go to college. I just said I won’t do it just because I saw the sort of the back end of like what high tuition does so for me it’s a very personal thing, and so I spent like a ton of my time trying to figure out what’s an opportunity where I can sort of pave my own path. So I chose a military which. So so that’s my own sort of like hey, christian formation shouldn’t be something, shouldn’t necessarily have this bill. Mm-hmm attached to it. This should be something that the church is like, hey, this is great. And so for me, when I think about Sattler and Me is me and like I spoke around a role as president in August of 2022 I’ve been dreaming about this the whole time I’ve been here that I really want to like nail, like Drive that cost even lower and lower. So Sattler’s original three C’s are core curriculum, which Corresponds to a problem, core curriculum, christian character formation, then cost. And so I looked when I think of that, see, I’m like man, I just want to, don’t want to paint that with a bullseye and just like go at it. And so for me, it’s like this is a great step to really say, hey, we really take this seriously. I even I even think that there’s this line from Bonhoeffer that I Think about I think you’ve heard it where in World War two, bonhoeffer was like Looking at all the Nazis and how impressive they were. And so he he took his friend to a hill and he they were like looking at a Nazi base and you can imagine like, well, it’s impressive, all the discipline, organization, mobilization. He says the Christian church needs to be better than that. He’s like pointing down and I just generally think that that’s true, that we need to be building these things that invest in people that Accomplish big goals, and so Sattler’s a microcosm of that, because I’m hoping we can get to 300 students in like 10 years. But 300 students is very small, that’s like 75 a year, and so this can’t be for everyone, but hopefully we’re leading the charge to invest in a set of like spectacular young people, and so that’s that’s part of it for me, and then as an institution and even in the world, this is like even broader. I’d like to start thinking a little bit more about hey, what’s? A lot of us can name all the things that are wrong with the world. I mean, you can, yeah, you could probably name some things wrong with the world. Right, there’s Israel, hamas. Right now there’s a almost a genocide in Sudan. Our own turf politically is like kind of insane, and so I like the institution to say, hey, what’s right with Christ? It’s like Mm-hmm, what, what’s wrong with the world? Or we can look at that and say what’s right with Christ? Let’s focus in on that and let’s develop people based on these things and then trust that they’ll They’ll know how to deal with these problems downstream. Does that make sense? I know it’s a big question, but why now? Is because like we can. Yeah, we looked at it, we were inspired and we’re like we can do this and now we can we do it. I think we can be some of the other institutions who are bigger and larger and we’re more nimble. So I’m like now is the right time. I also want to grow the institution. So I just I want to attract, I want to be an institution that attracts Excellent students, yeah, that are like really looking to make an impact on the world. Yeah. And then Boston is also a really interesting place where I think about we chose to be in Boston because we think that big cultural things happen here. We know they do and so. And so people are like, why’d you choose Boston? It’s crazy, it’s like it’s one of the more, it’s one of the more blue I’ll just use the word blue cities in the country, and they’re like why are doing this? It’s expensive, and so I’m really trying to make it possible with this decision. I also care about students. I, when I talked to students, usually when I was recruiting, it was like I’d love to come there, but and finances usually Become part of that conversation oh, it sounds awesome, but this, yeah, and so that’s a big thing for me. It’s like I hate that. I’m like, oh yeah, I want to make sure to do everything I can to help solve that. And then, on the Even further, there’s this question where when you talk to like a freshman entering college, they usually say something like I want to do this. They’re like an 18 year old. If you would have asked me, it would have been like I want to do disaster relief with Like my dad did. And then something happens where your bill tuition and then you’re like maybe I should just, maybe I should just get a job and pay my bills and. I really want to eliminate that as much as possible, that shift away from what people want to do versus what they end up doing, and so I hope that Sattler can be a stepping stone For students into doing what they want to do, and I’m hoping that Communities can rally and be like man watch we have every student get a mentor, so I want Sattler to be celebrated by by different communities where our students are from and Things like that, and I think this is a step in that direction where we’re saying, hey, we, we want you, we invite you to invest in students with us, we want your partnership, and things like that.

Kristi Mast: 55:02

I mean, and trustment just I think makes more and more sense to me the term, because there’s trust on so many levels and it is and it’s investment into students and it’s trusting that their God-given desires, their God-given passions are better than us telling them what to do, and that truly like trusting and making those bloom and grow and to send them out into the world to do those things that God has given them to do. That’s a big step of trust on the college’s part, that and it’s kind of like a big step of trust in the Holy Spirit that’s in them, that’s urging them on to do all those things and that gives me really excited. I’m excited about it.

Hannah Watson: 55:49

Yeah, it’s incredible. It’s an incredible life-giving opportunity to be told like we’re going to equip it. And how are you to go and serve Jesus without this big bill on your back?

President Johnson: 56:00

Yeah, and it’s only going to get better. I’m just kidding. We went a little bit over, but I’m going to start wrapping us up here. Anything else? Any other comments, questions, things, topics that we should cover before? No, All right, so how can you help? So obviously we’re looking at. When I go around talking to people, I’m always like, what do you do? Yeah, it’s actually kind of it’s like I look for students, I look for people, I look for money and I look for partners. It’s basically the four categories. It’s very simple. But to support and trustment, we’ve actually expanded how people can support this into the college. We can give to the college and we’re looking to grow an endowment to make this a little bit more resilient. So you can go to settleredu slash give. We have three. You can support entrustment endowment, which will basically be a fund that we grow over time to make sure that this grows. It’s kind of like building up a pool of money to weather different storms. You can support international living grants. That’s something I’m very passionate about right now because we want to continue to make it an opportunity for international students to come and have the same opportunity and we need to actually raise money for that. Or you can just trust me and give to the general funds and I’ll make decisions about where your dollar goes. It’ll be a dollar we’ll spend. I heard that people don’t know we have a store, is that?

Hannah Watson: 57:44

right, yeah, I had no idea my sweater half zip is really appealing to me.

Kristi Mast: 57:48

I didn’t even know my sweater came from the store.

President Johnson: 57:50

So I’m just saying, settleredu, top line, there’s a button called store. You click it and boom, there it is.

Kristi Mast: 58:00

I will say this is one of the softest sweaters that I own. Yeah, a nice sweater, it is really good.

President Johnson: 58:06

So if you’re looking into some settler merch, there’s the one I’m wearing right there. Looks good, right? Yeah, grant, maybe I should get you one for the next podcast. Okay, do you like it? I like that. I actually have it on my Christmas wish list, wow, great. And then I’d also like to say students can apply to one of the 49 openings, so we can’t take a million students. Fall 2024, we’re launching this fall 2024 at applysattleredu. Thank you, chrissy for joining, thank you, hannah for joining, graham, thank you as well, and that’s a wrap. Sattler College eliminates tuition with entrustment.

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