Penn launches fund-raiser for tuition aid

Posted: March 02, 2014

The University of Pennsylvania is launching a $240 million fund-raising 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 effort was announced at the board of trustees meeting.

To start the "Penn Compact 2020 Presidential Initiative," the university is seeking $1 million in donations from at least five individuals, which Penn 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 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 incomes 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 drive, a 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, hardworking students who could otherwise not afford a Penn education," Penn president Amy Gutmann said in a statement.

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

The university announced Thursday that it was increasing its tuition, fees, and room-and-board costs 3.9 percent, to a total of more than $61,000.

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