Dartmouth College is the latest higher education institution to announce plans to eliminate student loans from its financial aid packages. As student debt continues to rise, the move to do away with student loans altogether is a growing trend at colleges and universities across the United States.
Half of all Dartmouth undergraduate students currently receive some form of financial aid. The average amount borrowed for 2017 graduates was around $23,400. In order to compensate for the lack of loans with its new campagin, the college will be increasing the size of scholarships awarded.
“Every deserving student will have the opportunity to enjoy — and excel in — the full Dartmouth experience,” Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon said in a statement. “Our residential life will be more vibrant than ever, as we will attract an incredibly diverse mix of students from all socioeconomic, geographic and cultural backgrounds.”
As part of the college’s $3 billion fundraising campaign, The Call to Lead, Dartmouth plans to raise a total of $500 million to fund the loan-free financial aid system. So far, they have raised $2o million toward their goal.
“Leaving Dartmouth without a burden of debt will give our students the freedom to choose the career that reflects their passions and is less constrained by financial practicalities,” Ellie Loughlin, a Dartmouth graduate and campaign co-chair said on the campaign’s website.
For those who are already saddled with student debt, there are a number of employers committed to helping their employees pay off their loans with a student loan repayment employee benefit. The companies span a variety of industries and include insurance provider Aetna and accounting giant PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The perk is a wise move for companies aiming to attract the best talent, as student debt affects an overwhelming number of Americans.
“One of the things you have to do when you’re running an agency of young people is be empathetic to their problems and stresses,” Steve Connelly, president at Connelly Partners, told Digiday of his company’s policy to help employees pay off student debt. “Most of these kids cannot even start thinking about their future because they’re so saddled by their college debts.”
Dartmouth’s announcement coincides with a major milestone in the ongoing student loan crisis as last week, outstanding student debt in the United States surpassed $1.5 trillion. At this stage, every effort by colleges and employers to alleviate the debt burden is critically important.