Amid America’s colossal student debt problem, an Ivy League school is providing an example of how institutions can help.
Beginning next school year, Brown University will eliminate all student loans in its undergraduate financial aid packages, replacing them with scholarships. Following a $30 million fundraising effort launched in September, Brown administrators announced this week that 2,087 donors contributed toward the goal, and that the school—located in Providence, Rhode Island—plans to raise $90 million more to sustain the scholarship giving.
The initiative, part of a goal that Brown set in 2015 to raise $500 million for undergraduate financial aid overall, “amplifies our commitment to bringing the best and brightest students to Brown regardless of their socioeconomic background,” university president Christina Paxson said in a statement.
The decision does more than just alleviate financial pressure on middle- and low-income students and their families. To stay competitive, top-tier US universities watch one another closely, and move by Brown sends a message to its peer institutions that it’s time to turn similar attention to financial aid—especially at a time when the cost of a college degree is soaring up to the $250,000 mark. Fellow Ivy League schools Yale and Princeton both have no-loans policies in place, but many other top universities have income cutoffs in their financial aid packages, meaning that poorer families get better deals than those with mid-range incomes.
That’s the other benefit to no-loan policies: They help those in the middle class who may technically be able to afford huge tuition bills, but not without a significant struggle. Brown notes that it specifically wants to address the “challenges faced by families with moderate incomes, who often do not qualify for the generous financial aid offered to low-income families by Brown and some other universities, yet also do not have the full resources to cover the cost of attending college.” Implied is the encouragement to other schools to step up, as well.