When Katie Huston graduated from Ball State in 2018 with a marketing degree her mom Debbie cried.

A lot.

“She bawled like a baby,” Huston said. “She’s a huge reason why I am where I am. She’s my biggest supporter.”

Debbie Huston did not attend college, but she insisted that her daughter and two sons earn a degree.

The Delaware County mother knew the family was eligible for the 21st Century Scholars program and signed all of her children up. In addition to Katie, the oldest, Cale, earned an agricultural systems management degree from Purdue. The youngest, Sam, is currently studying graphic design, also at Ball State.

“My mom was a champion for us,” Katie said. “She got us in the program.”

Would the trio have attended college without the program? Probably, Katie said. Not attending college simply wasn’t an option.

The difference is that each will have graduated with significantly less student loan debt than they would have otherwise.

Katie borrowed just $5,500 to cover freshman year room and board. And she worked multiple jobs to pay for three years of off-campus rent. As a working adult, having manageable debt has given her the freedom to buy a car, live in downtown Indy, and pursue a dream job.

Katie is a digital marketing specialist for Endress & Hauser, a Greenwood-based firm that specializes in automation.

“I just want to say thank you to the team that continuously asks the government for that funding,” she said. “It definitely contributed to my success.”

Closing the Gap in Educational Achievement

Ball State University’s 21st Century Scholars have been vital to closing the achievement gap, curbing the brain drain, and more. Want to know how this program has made a difference for our students? Read more of their stories.

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