Bloomberg Gives $1.8 Billion to Support No-Loans Financial Aid

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Mark Kantrowitz

By Mark Kantrowitz

November 20, 2018

Philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg, 76, is giving $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, to support need-blind admissions and a no-loans financial aid policy. This is the largest gift ever made to a college or university.

Mr. Bloomberg, who served as mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013, announced the donation in a column in the New York Times on Sunday, November 18, 2018. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1964.

Johns Hopkins University Adopts No-Loans Financial Aid Policy

The gift will allow Johns Hopkins University to replace loans with grants in the financial aid packages of new students starting in fall 2019. The university will also publicize its need-blind college admissions policy.

With this donation, Johns Hopkins University joins a select group of 35 colleges and universities that offer need-blind admissions and meet the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students with a no-loans financial aid policy.

Goal: 50% Increase in Low-Income Student Enrollment

As of 2017-2018, only 13% of undergraduate students at Johns Hopkins University receive the Federal Pell Grant. Pell Grant recipient status is a proxy for low-income student status, because more than 94% of Pell Grant recipients having an adjusted gross income (AGI) less than $60,000, based on data from the 2015-2016 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). The university says it intends to increase this percentage to 20% or more.

Largest Gift to Higher Education, Ever

According to a list of major private gifts to higher education compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the largest previous gift to a college or university was $1 billion by the Anil Agarwal Foundation to endow Vedanta University in India in 2006.

Previous gifts of $500 million or more to U.S. colleges and universities have been made to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Oregon Health & Science University, University of California at San Francisco, and the University of Oregon.

Challenge: Eliminate College Cost as a Barrier to College Access

Such a huge gift makes a statement. Not only does it enable Johns Hopkins University to provide need-blind admissions with a generous no-loans financial aid policy, but it is generous enough that these policies are permanent. It also challenges other philanthropists to donate money to make college more affordable.

A good place to start:

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