This Ivy League School Will Stop Giving Out Student Loans For The Best Reason

“When you’re not constrained financially, you’re able to pursue whatever you’re genuinely interested in.”

Americans owed more than $1.3 trillion in student debt as of this June — more than two and a half times the student debt Americans owed just a decade prior. Pew Research Center also reported four in 10 adults under 30 bear student debt, and they're more likely to report financial struggles and to feel less upbeat about the value of degrees. Brown University wants to change all that.


Starting in 2018, this Providence, R.I., school will eliminate all loans from its undergrad financial aid packages. The students who would have gotten loans will now get scholarships — which will supplement work-study aid, parental contributions, and other funding, according to Money magazine.

Brown announced the news last week, saying it had successfully raised $30 million for the initiative through a fundraising drive that began in September — thanks to gifts from alumni who graduated anywhere from the 1950s to the 2010s — and the school plans to raise $90 million more to keep the no-loans policy sustainable.

"This initiative takes financial aid at the University to the next level, helping us do more for moderate-income students and families," Brown President Christina Paxson said in a statement. "It amplifies our commitment to bringing the best and brightest students to Brown regardless of their socioeconomic background."

These students from moderate-income students often fall through the cracks, the university says, since their families are often both ineligible for financial aid and incapable of covering the cost of tuition without aid. (Per Business Insider, 38 colleges in the United States cost more than $250,000 for a four-year education, and Vanguard reports that cost could double in the next two decades.)

Brown's initiative may sound groundbreaking, but the school is actually the sixth Ivy League member to offer all undergraduates a loan-free education, according to CNBC. Still, Brown has spent the past 14 years striving to make its undergrad program more accessible to all students, starting in 2003 when it enacted a need-blind admission policy.

"In a world where students are less reliant on loans, you're going to have more people who are passionate about what they do ultimately," Class of 2018 undergrad Conor Regan said, per Brown's statement. "When you're not constrained financially, you're able to pursue whatever you're genuinely interested in. Long-term, I think that benefits the broader economy, and it's better for Brown as well."

Cover image via Shutterstock.


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