A helping hand: Agriculture student pays tuition with a loan from his employer

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Isaac Evans, junior in agricultural economics, is thinking economically about his future. Evans smiles outside of Waters Hall on Sept. 2, 2019. (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

It’s the beginning of a new semester and a new year, and with that comes the ongoing question of how to pay tuition. The process of trying to get scholarships, working long hours, figuring out student loans and seeing if financial help is available is a grueling process.

For some students, a helping hand can change everything.

Isaac Evans, junior in agricultural economics, is from Scott City, Kansas where he worked on a farm throughout middle and high school. Once he graduated, he went to Colby, Kansas to start at Colby Community College and work as an assistant tennis coach at Colby High School.

Classes hadn’t started at CCC yet, so the head tennis coach said he could stay at her family’s farm until the dorms opened. This farm was Frahm Farmland, Inc., located just outside of Colby. During his first day there, Evans began talking with Lon Frahm, CEO and owner of Frahm Farmland, Inc.

“I went down for breakfast the first morning and got talking and they figured out I was an ag major and offered me a part-time job during the school year,” Evans said.

After the school year, he was offered a summer job. When he was thinking about transferring to K-State, Frahm offered to help with whatever Evans needed. What he needed was something all college students are looking for, and what made him start out at a community college: money.

“They asked me exactly what I did need, and I told them the only thing I didn’t really have covered was tuition,” Evans said.

Evans was offered a long-term position following his graduation from K-State to pay off the loan if he decides to return to work at Frahm Farmland. If he decides not to return, he can just pay the loan off.

For Frahm, this is a regular, informal thing. He said he doesn’t see people as a commodity.

“All my employees, I help with education as much as I can,” Frahm said. “I view labor as a long-term, fixed asset. Long-term, fixed assets, you maintain them and you improve them.”

Frahm said he believes helping employees with tuition is an investment with the “highest return and the longest life.” His farm is also a place that tries to manifest a family environment, as the Frahm’s have been in Colby for six generations, totaling about 100 years.

“I’m the only family member currently involved, but some of the people have been there so long, they [may] as well be family,” Frahm said. “No one’s ever quit. We’ve had one retirement, and no one’s ever been dismissed. So, Isaac kind of fell into a family.”

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Isaac Evans, junior agricultural economics, is thinking economically about his future. Evans smiles in the K-State Gardens on Sept. 2, 2019. (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

While Evans said someone doesn’t necessarily need a degree to do farm work, he thinks it’s a good safety net.

“You don’t need a degree to go run a sprayer, run a combine, but what happens if you’re working for a smaller corporation and they go under?” Evans said. “They have a bad year, and then you’re let go and you don’t have a degree that you can fall back on to go to a company?”

To Frahm, the real question is “Why would I not do it?” and Evans is happy to have met him at the right time.

“I just got lucky that, while I was there, I found a farm corporation that cared about furthering education,” Evans said.

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.