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Dartmouth College eliminates undergraduate student loans and replaces them with scholarship grants


(CNN) - Dartmouth College announced Tuesday it was eliminating student loans for undergraduates and replacing them with "expanded scholarship grants," the university said in a news release.

The initiative is part of the Ivy League school's "The Call to Lead" leadership campaign, and will begin starting June 23 for the summer 2022 term, the release said.

The announcement also means Dartmouth's class of 2022 will be the first class to enter the school and benefit from this program, the release said.

"Thanks to this extraordinary investment by our community, students can prepare for lives of impact with fewer constraints," Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon said in a statement.

Dartmouth's announcement comes amid the ongoing debate about student loan debt in the US, where 43 million people are waiting to find out if President Joe Biden will wipe away all or part of their federal student loan debt.

In April, after facing months of pressure from other Democrats to cancel $50,000 per borrower, Biden said he was considering some broad student loan forgiveness, though a smaller amount.

Dartmouth previously eliminated the loan requirement for undergrads from families with an annual income of $125,000 or less.

That will now be extended to families making more than $125,000 or less who receive need-based aid, the release said.

The transition to a "no loan financial policy" will benefit students from middle-income families, the release said.

The initiative is "the culmination of a remarkable series of achievements that have transformed Dartmouth's financial aid resources and policies over the past year, propelled by more than $120 million in scholarship gifts and pledges to the endowment since September 1," the release said.

"More than 65 families supported the campaign goal to eliminate loan requirements from Dartmouth's undergraduate financial aid awards, committing more than $80 million in gifts to the endowment," the release said.

An anonymous donor committed $25 million to complete the campaign, which was "one of the largest scholarship endowments in Dartmouth history," the release said.

"When I think of the exciting and transformational opportunities now available to these students without this financial barrier, I believe it's one of the most meaningful achievements of the campaign," Dartmouth alumna Ellie Loughlin said in a statement.

Dartmouth is not the only school to have modified its policy on student loans. 

Williams College in Massachusetts switched all financial aid to no-payback grants starting this fall.

In Georgia, Emory University announced in January it would be eliminating need-based loans as part of undergraduate financial aid packages, and replacing them with institutional grants and scholarships.

Ohio State University announced in November 2021 that it would use its endowment to eliminate student loans within the decade for its "debt-free degree" plan.

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