Ohio State University will offer undergraduates the opportunity to graduate debt-free after four years as part of an initiative announced by the school president on Friday that includes a combination of scholarships, grants and increased paid internships.
While other colleges offer a variety of scholarship programs to cover tuition fees, the state of Ohio believes it is the first major university to offer the debt-free option for full costs. of a student.
The program – which starts with a small pilot project next year and will cover tuition, accommodation, meals, fees and books – has an estimated cost of around $ 100 million per year when fully implemented. works after 10 years. The university is planning a fundraising campaign of $ 800 million to help cover that amount.
For their part, participating students will commit to graduating within four years and participating in financial literacy education. Students or their families must complete financial forms each year.
Just under half of Ohio state students graduate with debt, averaging around $ 27,000 based on last year’s class, President Kristina Johnson said . Debt forces students to make different career and life choices, from quitting a dream job to giving up graduate school to postponing buying a home, a- she added.
“In the end, you will be more successful at what you are passionate about, no matter what it pays to pay,” Johnson said. “We just want them to have this equal opportunity.”
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The university will test its “Scarlet and Gray Advantage” program next fall with 125 low- and middle-income students with the goal of fully implementing it in 10 years. It’s not about free tuition or college, Johnson stressed.
“It will in my opinion equalize the possibility for any student to realize the American dream,” she said.
Like many colleges, the state of Ohio already offers a tuition guarantee, which means that the tuition fees that freshmen pay will be the same each year they’re in college.
Ongoing fundraising and university contributions will cover around $ 30 million per year, with an endowment of around $ 500 million intended to cover the remainder each year. The program also includes access to federal and state grants, and will be available to all undergraduates, including foreign and international students.
The university and major donors will double up to $ 50 million in private donations of at least $ 100,000 as part of a fundraising sweetener.
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Internships in student fields will pay a living wage and would likely take place during the summer, Johnson said, possibly involving students living on campus in student accommodation while they work.
Even with the current shortage of employees due to the pandemic, Johnson says there will be enough jobs for everyone. This detail is one of many she hopes to sort out in next year’s pilot.
Last month, Smith College in Massachusetts announced it was cutting loans from undergraduate financial aid programs next year and replacing them with college grants.
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Washington University in St. Louis offers a “loan-free” program for families of first-year undergraduates with annual incomes of $ 75,000 or less. These students receive full financial aid without debt.