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The Knox "Fifth Year for Free" Guarantee


Office of the Registrar



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As students prepare to resume classes in person, our goal is to preserve what is special about living and learning together and to find new ways to continue the close collaboration between faculty and students that is a hallmark of a Knox education even in this unprecedented time.

To ensure that all students have the opportunity to fully experience a human-powered Knox education, Knox offered the “Fifth Year for Free” Guarantee. It allows students who were enrolled at Knox for the 2020-21 academic year to return to campus for up to an additional year of study tuition-free.

The Fifth Year for Free Guarantee is available to any Knox student who:

  • Was enrolled as a full-time, degree-seeking student for all three terms of the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Completes four years of study at Knox (or, for transfer students, the last two years at Knox after completing two years at another college) with at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average, and enrolls in the fall, winter, and/or spring term during the academic year immediately following their fourth year.
  • Enrolls in courses during the fifth year that are taught on the Knox campus and required to complete degree requirements. Study abroad and off-campus study courses are not eligible.

Students must work with their academic advisors to determine appropriate course selection and to ensure that they will have additional courses that must be completed during the fifth year to fulfill degree requirements.

Student-athletes should consult with the athletics department regarding eligibility requirements.

The Fifth Year for Free Guarantee will provide a full-tuition scholarship for up to three terms of study during the fifth year, minus any federal, state, or institutional grants or scholarships for which the student ordinarily qualifies. Students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility for federal or state grants. Other costs, including student fees, room, and board are the responsibility of the student. Federal student and parent loans may be available, subject to aggregate loan limits. Check with the Student Financial Services Office to confirm your eligibility.

A student may not participate in both the Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship Program and the “Fifth Year for Free” Guarantee tuition program.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you need more information on a topic or have questions that are not included below, email

  • This is an excellent question. Please keep your focus on post-graduate and career plans and the potential benefits of a fifth year for achieving those goals. Maybe a fifth year helps you achieve your goals. But it is also possible that staying an extra year interrupts or delays those plans. Please discuss your goals with your academic advisor and weigh the costs and benefits of a fifth year at Knox. You can find more information here.

  • As a general rule, you should complete degree requirements when you have a chance to do so. It is not the aim of the “fifth year for free” to stop you from taking a course you should take now. Instead, it is an opportunity to do something new, different, or better. Perhaps you want to complete a second major or minor. You may want to do more in the areas of “civic engagement” and “Immersion and active learning.” These are degree requirements too. Discuss with your academic advisor how a fifth year can be an enhancement.

  • It is assumed that students will be full time each term while taking advantage of this opportunity. Full time enrollment is required for some opportunities such as athletics participation, remaining in status for student visas, and some financial aid opportunities. Students should consult Student Financial Services.

  • Students can complete one, two or three terms during the fifth year, in whatever combination makes sense for the students’ programs. Please note: all terms must be completed within a single academic year and in the year immediately following your fourth year at Knox.

  • Yes, students are expected to live on campus according to our usual regulations regarding on-campus housing. A request to live off-campus could be pursued through the regular process established by Campus Life.

  • Any honors project must be approved through our standard procedures. Any honors proposal requires faculty support and availability. A second honors project proposal would need to consider some important qualifications. The project must be in a different academic field from the first honors project. It could not be a continuation of the first project. Honors students have a number of resources and travel funds available for a first honors project. These funds would be limited for a second honors project to ensure that other students completing their first honors project have sufficient resources.

  • Perhaps. But you should discuss with your academic advisor whether delaying is the best option. While there may be sound academic reasons for waiting to start your senior project, it is important to preserve flexibility in your schedule too. Perhaps a new post-graduate opportunity such as a job, fellowship, or graduate programs becomes available. You would not want to be held back by uncompleted graduation requirements.

  • There is a brief application, available on the Registrar's Student Forms page, required to be submitted before the end of your fourth year. It is important that you speak with your academic advisor about your plans. Make sure you maintain your eligibility according to the “Fifth Year for Free" Guarantee rules. Also remember to file your FAFSA.

  • No, students must be enrolled for Knox courses only.

  • Most questions about whether this program makes sense for you academically can be answered by talking with your academic advisor. For questions about financial costs or financial aid eligibility, you can speak directly with your advisor in the Office of Student Financial Services. For specific questions about credits and degree requirements, please contact the Registrar at or 309-341-7205.

Knox College

Printed on Sunday, June 23, 2024