Dartmouth College eliminates student loans from financial aid packages

Graduating Southern Utah University students walk in the processional to the 123rd annual commencement in April 2022.

Graduating students walk in the processional to the 123rd annual commencement for Southern Utah University in Cedar City on Friday, April 19, 2022. As the Biden administration ponders student loan forgiveness, Dartmouth College will eliminate student loans from financial aid packages for undergraduate students, extending more grants instead.

Nick Adams, for the Deseret News

As the Biden administration ponders student loan forgiveness, Dartmouth College will eliminate student loans from financial aid packages for undergraduate students, extending more grants instead.

According to NPR, the policy takes effect Thursday, so students entering the summer 2022 semester will be the first beneficiaries.

Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon said donors’ generosity will enable students to “prepare for lives of impact with fewer constraints.”

He continued, “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, an Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire, has had a policy that does not require loans for students whose household income is less than $125,000. It will now extend that to students whose household income is greater than $125,000 and receive need-based financial aid, according to the NPR report. The school estimates the move will eliminate up to $5,500 in student debt per student, per year.

Meanwhile, repayment and interest on federal student loans has been suspended since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 under executive order by President Biden. An announcement on the administration’s next steps is expected any day.

Biden campaigned on the issue of student loan forgiveness, pledging to cancel at least $10,000 in student debt per person.

State-supported colleges and universities in Utah are continuing their efforts to keep tuition affordable and find other means to expand access to post-secondary education, officials said in a previous Deseret News interview.

Earlier this year, the Utah Board of Higher Education authorized the sale of the Federal Family Education Loan Program portfolio that has been administered by the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority.

Under SB172, passed by the Utah Legislature, proceeds of the sale will fund an endowment estimated near $300 million that in future years will help fund scholarships to curb the cost of college and fund other priorities of the higher education board’s priorities: college access, completion and workforce connections.

One such initiative is the Utah College Advising Corps, which helps high school students make successful transitions to college under the guidance of “near peer” college access advisers who work in their high schools.

Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, sponsor of SB172, said in an interview Thursday that higher education “is an economic driver and a road to success, so we’ve got to continue to try and provide those opportunities.”

Utah’s System of Higher Education continues to offer more needs-based scholarships while continuing to provide merit scholarships, to help address access and affordability, he said.

Vickers, who is a pharmacist, was the first college graduate in his family. “It literally has been a generational change because now all five of my kids have degrees and two of them have doctorates and now their children, they’re looking at schools. It can be a generational change,” he said.

Marjorie Cortez

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