Moundsville native Eve Stoffel expects to receive her diploma from Carnegie Mellon University this summer after just two years of classes there - a move she calculates could save her as much as $36,000 in tuition costs alone.
Stoffel, 20, participated in CMU's graduation ceremonies Sunday in Pittsburgh, though she will obtain the last of her required credits through online courses available from West Liberty University in August.
Stoffel has a 4.0 grade point average at CMU and is to receive her bachelor's degree in international relations and politics.
She was able to finish her course work early because she completed about one-fourth of the required classes while still a student at John Marshall High School. She achieved this by taking Advanced Placement classes, gaining dual credits for classes that John Marshall has partnered with other local colleges to provide.
As a result, Stoffel began her career at CMU as a sophomore. She took a normal course load for her first two semesters before increasing her class load during her last two semesters this year.
"I have a couple of classes to fill, and I will be taking these from West Liberty," she said. "It's so much cheaper than at CMU."
Stoffel still must take five credit hours to meet all of her graduation requirements, but she said she will take more classes than that to make sure she has "as strong an application as possible" when she applies to graduate schools. She will be taking four classes - or 12 credit hours - at WLU this summer.
The cost per credit hour at WLU for in-state students is $240.83 - or about $2,900 for 12 credit hours. The cost per credit at CMU, meanwhile, is $623, or $7,476 for 12 credit hours.
The annual tuition at CMU is $44,880, Stoffel said. She received $32,000 per academic year in scholarships and grants, and she estimates that graduating two years early will save her more than $36,000 in tuition costs.
"That number doesn't even include the money I will be saving on living expenses, books, fees and interest on my student loans," Stoffel said. " I will be able to pay off the loans I do have and graduate debt-free. ... The money my parents put away for college can now be put toward other purposes."
While a student, she worked 12 hours a week on campus for a professor as a student assistant. Her next move, after completing her final course work through WLU, is to go to Peru in the fall to join a social work program. She will be there from Sept. 15 to Dec. 19.
"Yes, it's been a lot of hard work, and I want to focus on something other than academics for a while," Stoffel said. "CMU is so intensely academic. I want to develop more fully as human being for a while. Instead of focusing on myself and academics, it will be a good change of pace.
"I'm excited," she added. "I've decided I have to be excited, or else I would be afraid."
Stoffel is the daughter of Dave and Becky Stoffel of Moundsville.