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‘No loan’ schools seeing smaller debt loads

Some of the most expensive, elite schools have adopted “no loan” financial aid for students, among them five Ivies (Yale, UPenn, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia) and Vanderbilt. Instead of loans in a financial aid package, students receive grant awards. It’s something that, as the Yale Daily News reports, few schools have the endowment and donations to support:

Ronald Ehrenberg, a professor at Cornell University and leading expert on higher education, also said few universities can afford “no-loan” policies like Yale, Princeton and Williams. Student debt has risen dramatically over the past year, Ehrenberg said, because college costs have increased while family incomes have remained stagnant.

“Debt is not a problem at Yale,” Ehrenberg said. “You are very privileged to be at a university with such great financial aid.”

And that’s why, at least in part, at a time when the average class of 2010 member graduated with $25,000 in student debt, the Yale graduate only had $9,254. This year, it decreased even more to $9,000.

Other schools with programs like this range from incredibly small amounts of debt relative to the $200,000+ price tag (Princeton at $5,225) to bigger, if still nationally modest sums (UPenn at $17,013). The average Vanderbilt grad’s debt is much closer to national average ($18,605) but the school says their “no loan” aid program, implemented in the spring of 2009, reduced the average indebtedness in that year by 17 percent (the latest year the data is available).

You can find most school’s debt loads at the Project on Student Debt.

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