Miami Work Plus offers paid tuition
First graduate from new school-to-work program says dream came true.
Anna Kiep will receive her four-year degree from Miami University Hamilton later this month, but what she won’t get is a college tuition bill of more than $20,000. That’s how much Kiep estimates the new Miami Work Plus program has saved her while giving her work world experience. She is the first to graduate from the experimental program.
By Michael D. Clark
Staff Writer


HAMILTON — The first Miami University student to graduate from an experimental college/workplace program said the new way of combining a job with paid tuition made her dreams come true while saving her thousands in student debt.

That is the way the Miami Work Plus program was envisioned to operate when it was launched in the fall of 2019, said Miami officials.

Anna Kiep will graduate with a four-year degree in English on Friday, and she’ll walk away with her diploma having saved more than $20,000 in tuition for her junior and senior years of classes at Miami University Hamilton.

Kiep is among the first of more than a dozen students to participate in Miami’s Work Plus, which was recently approved by Ohio lawmakers as a prototype experiment that could be adopted by all colleges statewide.

The Badin High School graduate, who before joining the program was working 60 hours a week at various jobs to pay for her tuition, said when she signed up for Work Plus because “it sounded too good to be true.”

Work Plus enabled her to focus more on her studies by combining payment of her tuition with a paycheck earned working a flexible 24-hour per week work schedule with The Fischer Group in West Chester Twp.

At the Fischer Group her work and position has evolved and today she serves as an “issue supervisor,” handling ordering,
packaging, shipping and other issues for the two companies that the Fischer Group serves at its fulfillment center. In addition to her work with the client companies she has worked with the Fischer Group to develop standardized operating procedures and to train employees, said Miami officials.

“I couldn’t believe it. The program cut my work week in half and it was paying for my school” while also paying Kiep $11 an hour to learn new skills in the work world.

Miami’s Vice President for ASPIRE Randi Thomas said “Anna’s experience with Work Plus is precisely what Miami, working with (program founder) Sen.

Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., and area companies, envisioned.”

“She gained work experience, earned a regular income from a scheduled position that worked around her class schedule, and is graduating debt-free,” said Thomas.

Kiep said she is taking her undergraduate degree and will start classes at Cleveland State University in the spring in pursuit of a master’s in school counseling.

“It’s great to have our first program graduate, and equally great to see that she is continuing on to a higher degree to reach and serve students in our schools,” said Thomas.

Kiep, who is the first in her family to earn a college degree, said of being the first graduate from the new program, “I feel very privileged and blessed to have had this opportunity.”

“Work Plus, combined with the affordability of Miami Regionals, is a combination that all students should explore.”

Contact this reporter at 513- 820-2179.