Starting in the 2018-2019 school year, Brown University will replace all loans with scholarships for incoming freshmen and continuing undergraduates. The Rhode Island school joins a handful of others, including Vanderbilt and Yale, that offer loan-free financial aid packages.
With a price tag of $67,000 per year, officials at Brown hope this initiative will reduce the burden particularly for students from middle-income families who are unable to afford tuition costs out-of-pocket but do not qualify for the grants and scholarships offered to lower-income families.
“This initiative takes financial aid at the University to the next level, helping us do more for moderate-income students and families,” said Dr. Christina Paxson, the university’s president said in a statement announcing the plan. “It amplifies our commitment to bringing the best and brightest students to Brown regardless of their socioeconomic background.”
Brown University made the announcement last week after reaching $30 million in donations, the quarter mark of a larger fundraising goal that would make loan-free financial aid a permanent offering.
The effort is part of the university’s long-term campaign to diversify its campus.
Brian Clark, a university spokesperson, said he is confident the institution will be able to raise the full $120 million necessary to eradicate loans at the Ivy League institution. Since fundraising began in September, the university has received over 2,000 donations, ranging from $1 to gifts in the millions.
This program is designed to expand a decades-long trend at Brown. About 15 years ago, the university adopted a need-blind admissions policy. In 2008, it eliminated loans for students whose household incomes are less than $100,000. Still, out of Brown’s 6,670 undergraduates, 1,138 take out student loans.
According to Clark, the institutional mission is to prevent finances from stifling the ambitions of its students.
“Our hope is that our students who do attend Brown can focus on fulfilling high-impact careers rather than thinking about their academic study as something that they need to pursue to repay loans,” he said. “In other words, they can pursue the course of study that’s most fulfilling to them.”
Joseph Hong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org