Not borrowing trouble

Today’s decision by Davidson College to eliminate student loans (while retaining need-blind admissions) is a superb example of a nonprofit organization’s using the fundraising strength of its Board to accomplish its mission.  According to a press release on the College Website,

“The trustees are deeply committed to this new policy, and it will be funded entirely with new monies,” said John F. McCartney, chair of Davidson’s Board of Trustees.  He said the trustees have identified and committed the immediate funding to initiate the policy, and have formally committed to a strategy for raising funds to permanently endow it. 

It’s also a great example of stopping to think about whether things have to be done the way we’ve always done them: higher education has rested on its considerable financial endowment while saddling students with debt ever since the Federal government began guaranteeing the repayment of student loans in the 1970s, with long-term consequences for the career choices of those young people and for the society that needs them as teachers, doctors to poor people–and employees of the nonprofit sector. 

A commentator cynically observed that this was a great way for a relatively unknown college to get a flurry of marketing attention.  Be that as it may: is there some other form of marketing the college could pursue that would benefit the students as much as the institution?

Kudos to Davidson for deciding that the cost of a college education shouldn’t be indentured servitude.


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