By Linh Bui

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — College debt continues to climb. It’s a huge financial burden for students and their families. But now, a Maryland university launches a new, first of its kind program that could save students thousands of dollars.

Linh Bui explains.

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A University of Baltimore senior will soon leave school with a business degree and a mountain of student debt to the tune of $20,000.

“It’s a lot of stress. Because after you graduate, you have to find a job. You have to pay each month the loan,” Cherifatou Sidi said.

It’s a growing problem facing college grads, so University of Baltimore will launch a new initiative to reduce student debt. “Finish 4 Free” begins this fall for incoming freshmen.

“If a student comes in as a full-time freshman and they are on track to graduate within four years, that last semester’s tuition is free. It’s on us,” said Paul Toran, V.P. of university advancement and communications.

The “Finish 4 Free” offer is worth $3,300 for in-state students and $9,000 for out-of-state students.

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“Finish 4 Free” is just one initiative launching this year. The University of Baltimore is also enhancing scholarships and improving academic support services.

University officials hope “Finish 4 Free” will motivate students to be successful.

“Was there something that we could do to have that sort of thing at the end of the rainbow? That carrot that said if you can continue on this path, that we are your partners. We’re in this with you,” Toran said.

Many current students wish the incentive was around when they started school.

“Based on my experience and how hard it is when you don’t have financial aid, it’s going to be really helpful,” Sidi said.

Of course, the university expects the program will be successful and might even inspire other colleges to create similar incentives.

If you’d like more information about “Finish 4 Free,” contact the admissions office at the University of Baltimore.

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Linh Bui