Penn to launch fundraising campaign for tuition aid to avoid student loans

Posted: February 28, 2014

The University of Pennsylvania is launching a $240 million fundraising campaign targeted specifically for financial aid - an effort to bolster its policy of providing all grants and no loans to students in need, school officials said Friday.

The new effort was announced at the board of trustees meeting Friday.

To kick off the "Penn Compact 2020 Presidential Initiative," the university is seeking $1 million donations from at least five individuals that the university will match.

If the effort is successful, Penn will have raised $600 million for financial aid over the last decade. In 2009, the university eliminated loans from its financial aid packages to alleviate student debt. All aid is now handed out in grants.

The initiative is expensive, and some colleges including Dartmouth, Williams, Claremont McKenna - and most recently Haverford - have begun or plan to begin reintroducing loans for some students.

At Haverford, beginning with the class of 2019, students from families with income above $60,000 a year will see aid packages with loans ranging from $6,000 to a maximum of $12,000 over four years, college officials said. Current students are not affected, nor are students who applied for admission for fall 2014.

Penn would have maintained its all-grants policy even without the new fundraising drive, a Penn spokesman said.

"This new Penn Compact 2020 presidential initiative will allow us to expand the impact of our all-grant, no-loan program, which has proven to be hugely successful in opening Penn's doors to thousands of talented, hard-working students who could otherwise not afford a Penn education," Penn President Amy Gutmann said in a statement.

Penn notes that its all-grants policy has decreased the average cost of a Penn education to undergraduates in need by 10 percent. About 47 percent of Penn students receive aid. The average grant for 2014-15 is expected to be about $41,700.

The university on Thursday announced it was hiking its tuition, fees and room and board costs by 3.9 percent, to a total of over $61,000.

215-854-4693 @ssnyderinq

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