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Dartmouth College is eliminating loans from its financial aid packages

In this May 22, 2018 file photo, the spire of the Baker-Berry Library stands above The Green at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Charles Krupa
In this May 22, 2018 file photo, the spire of the Baker-Berry Library stands above The Green at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university in New Hampshire, said Monday it will no longer offer loans in its financial aid packages for undergrad students, and instead, replace them with more grants.

The policy will take effect June 23, so students entering the summer 2022 semester will be the first beneficiaries.

"Thanks to this extraordinary investment by our community, students can prepare for lives of impact with fewer constraints," Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon said. "Eliminating loans from financial aid packages will allow Dartmouth undergraduates to seek their purpose and passion in the broadest possible range of career possibilities."

Dartmouth currently has a policy that doesn't require loans for students whose household income is less than $125,000, but it will now extend to students whose household income is greater than $125,000 and receive need-based financial aid.

The school estimates the move will eliminate up to $5,500 in student debt per student, per year.

The decision is supported by $80 million from about 65 donors, Dartmouth said.

"Dartmouth already offers generous assistance to students from low-income backgrounds, and this move to a universal no-loan policy will help middle-income families who often have to stretch their budgets to meet the cost of higher education," Director of Financial Aid Dino Koff said in a statement.

The policy is part of Dartmouth's The Call to Lead campaign, which "is a bold invitation to Dartmouth's global community to engage with the great issues of this century and the next," according to its website.

Under the campaign, the school has also offered need-blind admissions to international students and increased the household income limit for full scholarships to $125,000. Need-blind admissions are decisions that don't take into account an applicant's financial circumstances.

President Joe Biden has suspended repayment and interest on federal student loans since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Student loan forgiveness was one of Biden's prominent campaign platforms in the 2020 presidential election, in which he pledged to cancel at least $10,000 in student debt per person. He is expected to make an announcement soon on what he plans to do next about the issue.

A recent NPR/Ipsos poll showed that 55% of Americans support Biden canceling up to $10,000 per person.

But the more generous the relief, the more that support narrows.

Forty-seven percent of all respondents said they support forgiving up to $50,000 in debt, while 41% expressed support for wiping the slate completely clean for all borrowers.

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Ayana Archie
[Copyright 2024 NPR]