Student loans eliminated for students from families earning $ 125,000 or less

Expanded support will start with class 2026.

by Pierce Wilson | 06/01/21 2h00

On May 12, Dartmouth announced that starting with Class 2026, students from families with an annual household income of $ 125,000 or less will be eligible for full loan-free scholarships. The threshold marks an increase of $ 25,000 from the previous threshold of $ 100,000, according to Presidential Commission on Financial Aid co-chair Julie McKenna.

Expansion of eligibility for free tuition is part of $ 3 billion, according to college press release Call to Lead campaign. Julie McKenna said increasing the $ 125,000 loan-free threshold is part of the College’s “natural progression”.

“In 2005, the threshold was $ 45,000, then from 2012 to today it was $ 100,000,” said Julie Mckenna. “Our next step is to try to increase it to $ 150,000.”

According to Vice Provost Enrollment and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Lee Coffin, the new policy means eligible students will no longer have student loans included in their Dartmouth financial aid program. All their demonstrated needs will be met through scholarships, grants and work-study, he said.

“We won’t wrap any of these families with loans,” Coffin said. “However, a single family could still take out a loan, and that would be an independent process. The College says, “We are no longer meeting your needs with a federal loan.” ”

Director of Financial Aid Dino Koff said “many schools” do not include student loans in their financial aid programs and that Dartmouth is working to do the same for students of all levels. income – starting by increasing the threshold to $ 150,000. Currently, Dartmouth and Cornell University are the only schools in the Ivy League to provide student loans to undergraduate students, he said.

Koff added that even with the implementation of this policy, students and families can still apply for loans to help families and students contribute.

“Students can come in and apply for a student loan, whether it’s to help cover the family’s contribution, or if a student doesn’t want to work for a term,” Koff said.

Koff added that “many ‘loan-less’ schools still have high student loan debt” because students and families take on additional loans.

Coffin said loans to Dartmouth – which typically total around $ 25,000 over four years for students who receive loans as part of their financial aid program – are “lower” than what US colleges typically give. to families. However, he added that students can end up with more debt when families decide to borrow beyond what is granted to cover other costs. Koff explained that in these situations, families usually turn to private loans and federal loans for parents PLUS.

Koff said the college still has a “no loans for everyone” goal, and increasing the no-loan threshold to $ 125,000 is the next step in reaching that goal.

Ami Nwaoha ’23 said he had federal loans included in his financial aid program, although his family’s income exceeded the eligibility threshold of $ 125,000 for the class of 2026.

“It’s just boring to have to [take out loans] for Dartmouth, ”he said. “If it was in another school, I could understand the need to do it, but with the size of the endowment, it’s just frustrating.”

Nwaoha added that he believes eliminating loans for all students is an important aspect of attracting more students to Dartmouth, as well as reducing the financial stress students experience when studying at Dartmouth.

A member of the 2023 class, who requested anonymity as a condition of disclosing what he considers sensitive financial information, said his financial aid program included the maximum amount of unsubsidized federal loans. Although her family could afford to cover the rest of the school fees, they decided to take out more loans to help pay the family contribution outlined in her financial aid program.

He said that while his student loans aren’t a major source of stress for him, they will limit any post-graduation opportunities he could possibly pursue.

“My monthly payments should only be $ 200 to $ 400 per month – it’s pretty manageable,” he said. “But it’s still on my mind. I don’t really feel like I can leave college and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to take a year to do something cool. “I feel like I have to go out and start earning an income to be able to pay off my loans. “

The Presidential Commission on Financial Aid has led the widening of the eligibility conditions, according to the other co-chair David McKenna. He said the commission was formed last March and seeks to improve financial access to the Dartmouth experience.

“Financial aid is actually the key to bringing super talented kids to Dartmouth because if you have really good financial aid you can get these great kids who can’t afford it,” McKenna said.

David McKenna said financial aid is “the key to the community” because financial aid enables students to be on an economically equal footing as a community. He added that financial aid is also the “key to leadership” because “many of the best leadership jobs are the least lucrative jobs.”

“If you’re really planning to go and change the world, it’s often not on Wall Street – it’s often somewhere on Main Street where you have a lower pay,” he said. “If you are overwhelmed by a large number of loans, you might make a different decision as to what you want to do.”

Coffin said the announcement was important to signal the community that the Order is aware of how the pandemic may have had a financial impact on families.

“Many families have seen their income or assets really affected by the economic conditions,” Coffin said. “[The announcement] Was a way for the College to say, “We remain committed to ensuring socio-economic access to families who feel the cost of an education in Dartmouth is beyond their reach.” ”

According to Julie McKenna, the commission has four additional goals: to transition to admissions blind to the needs of international undergraduate students – the admissions office was once blind to the needs of international students from the Class of 2012 to the Class of 2019 , But became “aware of the need” in 2015 starting with the Class of 2020 – offering scholarships to graduate students, funding off-campus programs for undergraduates, and supporting undergraduate students in need.

Koff explained the goal of supporting off-campus programs, explaining that for study abroad that costs more than normal tuition in Dartmouth, financial aid currently only covers 50% of excess costs. Ideally, he said, the costs of studying abroad or in Hanover would be the same for students who receive financial aid.

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