Brown University, cognizant of the mounting debt that too many graduates face after earning their undergraduate degrees, has instituted a new plan to replace student loans with grants. It’s a plan that will impact next year’s incoming Brown University students as well as all current students and it will begin next fall. The plan, made possible by The Brown Promise program, will particularly help middle-income young people who don’t qualify for Brown’s no-loan financial aid because their family income is too high — and yet it’s not high enough to subsidize four years of a Brown University education. We’ve written for many years about how America’s most highly selective colleges can and must do more for students who fall into this category in particular. While students from low-income families often qualify for aid, it’s middle-income young people who really get squeezed. We salute Brown for making tangible efforts to help these very students.
Brown Replaces Student Loans with Grants
As reports Amy Liu for “The Daily Pennsylvanian” in a piece entitled “Brown University just announced a plan to replace student loans with grants for incoming students,” “The fundraising initiative, called ‘The Brown Promise: The Future of Financial Aid at Brown,’ aims to eliminate all loans from undergraduate financial aid packages. Close to 2,100 donors have contributed anywhere between $1 to millions. Sustaining the initiative will require at least $4.5 million to be raised annually. The university has a total goal of $120 million attached to The Brown Promise program, the Herald reported…At all other Ivy League universities…roughly half of all 2016 incoming freshmen receive need-based grants, ranging from 34 percent at Brown to 62 percent at Princeton University, according to The Washington Post.”
Eliminating all loans from undergraduate financial aid packages is a lofty goal. We suspect some of America’s most highly selective colleges don’t announce plans like The Brown Promise program because they feel that if they institute such a program, they’re essentially committing themselves in perpetuity to always offering a financial aid package that doesn’t include loans. And we don’t find fault in these colleges for not wanting to start something that they can’t necessarily maintain — since maintaining such a program at Brown, for instance, requires $4.5 million to be raised annually. But read that number again. $4.5 million. For institutions with such ridiculously sized endowments, we’re talking about a mere $4.5 million. One wealthy donor can cover this amount from a day’s earnings in the market (it’s all relative). Finally, colleges will always worry about being able to maintain such a program but if the school is forthright and announces it needs a certain amount in donations each year to subsidize the program, then it can actually start helping the students who need help now.
Ivy Coach salutes Brown University for implementing a practical plan that will help incoming middle-income students as well as current students at the university avoid having to take out loans. Way to go Brown!