The Best Loan is No Loan

On Friday Fox Business’ website ran a piece on options for those looking for a low- or no-tuition college experience: work colleges, work-study programs, and service academies, to name a few.

But the part that really caught my eyes was this bit at the end on loan-free schools:

Students stressing over post-graduation loan repayment, fear no longer, at least with this group of schools. To increase economic diversity, 18 institutions throughout the country have eliminated student loans from their financial aid packages, replacing them with scholarships, grants and work-study jobs.

“Once we find out what a student’s financial need is, we meet it 100% with scholarships,” says Robin Moscato, director of financial aid for Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., the first no-loan institution in the U.S. “That doesn’t mean that no students borrow, but the average need-based loan for a graduating senior is under $2,500.”

The caveat here is obvious: What’s realistic for Princeton and other elite or elite-ish schools in this category (such as Claremont McKenna and Dartmouth) isn’t realistic for most institutions. But it’s nice to dream, isn’t it, of a world where most schools both a) realized the deleterious affect debt burden has on the life of graduates, and b) were in a position, like Princeton is, to do something about it?

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Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.