Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.


This University Just Got Rid of Student Loans — for All Students

It’s a condition that affects 44 million Americans, and costs the country nearly $1.5 trillion. No, it’s not heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis. 

It’s student debt. 

In 2016, the average college graduate in the United States owed more than $35,000 in student loans, but now one university is changing that. 

On Thursday, Brown University announced that it will eliminate all student loans starting in the 2018-2019 school year, and replace them with scholarship packages that do not need to be paid back. 

Take Action: Ask More Donors to Step up and Fund the Global Partnership for Education

“This initiative takes financial aid at the University to the next level, helping us do more for moderate-income students and families,” Brown President Christina Paxson said in a statement. “It amplifies our commitment to bringing the best and brightest students to Brown regardless of their socioeconomic background.”

The university began fundraising to eliminate student loans in 2015, as part of its BrownTogether campaign, according to the school’s website. It ultimately raised $30 million for the initiative, and hopes to raise an additional $90 million overall. 

Embed from Getty Images

Brown is not the first university to eliminate student loans for all students, regardless of socioeconomic background. 

According to US News & World Report, a total of 16 schools — many of them top-tier, “Ivy League” schools — have eliminated student loans for all students. Additionally, more than 50 schools do not give out loans to students from low-income families. 

Read More: Women Carry More Student Loan Debt Than Men, New Study Finds

Student loans have deep and long-lasting effects on American students — especially for those living in poverty. 

As the Ohio Poverty Law Center reports: “A family living on $36,000 or less per year would have to pay more than 70% of its income to cover college costs, after accounting for grant aid.” 

More than one in 10 college graduates are either 90 days late on student loan payments or in default, according to Department of Education statistics. And the effects of this can stay with students for decades. 

Read More: New York Proposes Free Public College for Close to a Million Families

According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, more than 100,000 senior citizens had their social security payments docked to pay off defaulted student loans in 2015. The study also found that student debt for individuals over the age of 65 had increased by four times since 2005, Huffington Post reports

Embed from Getty Images

When it comes to getting a college education, the United States is the sixth most expensive country, relative to income, in the world. Many countries — from Sri Lanka to Norway — offer free, universal college education. 

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goal number four: quality education. You can take action here

“In a world where students are less reliant on loans, you’re going to have more people who are passionate about what they do ultimately,” one Brown student, Conor Regan, said. “When you’re not constrained financially, you’re able to pursue whatever you’re genuinely interested in. Long-term, I think that benefits the broader economy, and it’s better for Brown as well.”