Following disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Wartburg College is offering a tuition-free fifth year to all students enrolled full-time for the upcoming fall and spring semesters.

Wartburg President Darrel Colson extended the offer this week to ensure that all current students so they could get the full "Wartburg Experience".

“Because the pandemic has interrupted so many of our normal activities, we want to ensure that our graduates receive the full benefit of a Wartburg education," Colson said in a news release. "Offering free tuition for a fifth year seems to fit the bill; students can return for another semester or year to complete any activity they feel as if they left unfinished.”

There are several activities that extend beyond the academic programs at Wartburg. Intercollegiate athletics, student government, music ensembles and student media are among the many co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

When COVID-19 began to spread worldwide in mid-March, Wartburg pivoted to remote learning. Spring athletic events, concerts, and several other gatherings on campus were canceled. Though the college plans to resume in-person classes next month, campus life will continue to be impacted as students, faculty and staff work to keep the campus and Waverly communities safe.

Colson expects as many as 16,000 students will start the fall semester when classes began Aug. 26. He isn't sure how many of them will take advantage of the free tuition offer.

"We cannot be sure what to expect this year, and therefore we cannot be sure that the year will meet out students' and their families' expectations," Colson said. “Whether they are first-year students just beginning their journey as a Knight or seniors contemplating that next step, we want to ensure that all of our current students are given every opportunity to live the fullness of the Wartburg experience.”

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