As we begin the new year, it’s a good time to consider some initiatives in higher education that deserve more attention and broader adoption. Colleges have recently introduced creative policies in areas such as financial aid, academic programs, and student success. This month I plan to highlight a few of these efforts in the hopes they’re considered as models to be tested at other institutions. First up is the student loan repayment program at Haverford College.
Haverford College introduced a new financial aid program, which pays the first year of loan obligations for students in its 2019 graduating class. According to reporting by Inside Higher Education (IHE), under the new program, 12 Haverford graduates (out of a total of 318) will be the first to receive the debt relief, ranging from $900 to $1,500 apiece. They will also be eligible to apply for two more years of loan repayment.
Here is the institutional context for the Haverford initiative. It follows earlier decisions by the college to 1) drop a promise that its students would not have to take out loans to pay for their education and 2) end its need-blind admissions policy and admit a small number of students based partly on their ability to pay.
The college still promises students from families making less than $60,000 per year that they won’t have to take out loans to pay for college. Those making more may have to take out loans, but they’re still expected to be smaller than what’s allowed under federal limits. According to IHE, Haverford borrowers assume about $13,600 in loans on average.
The end of the no-loan policy went into effect for first-year students enrolling in 2015, expecting to graduate in 2019. Into the breach stepped Steven M. Jaharis, a member of Haverford’s Board of Trustees, whose family foundation donated $2 million to endow a fund that would help repay graduates’ debt.