Source: The University of Chicago Magazine

“Chicago is not alone in this act of reimagination. In embarking on the Odyssey initiative, it joins a growing number of colleges and universities that have found the means, over the past decade, to ease the burden of undergraduate debt for poorer students. Princeton became the first, abolishing loans for low- and moderate-income undergrads in 1998 and then for all financial-aid recipients in 2001. This past year Amherst and Davidson followed suit, announcing they would replace all need-based loans with grants. A dozen others—Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Penn, Rice, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Virginia among them—have initiated some form of loan relief for low- and moderate-income students. “It really does change things,” says Robin Moscato, Princeton’s director of undergraduate financial aid. Since 2001 the percentage of Princeton students on aid has risen from 38 to 55. The number of incoming freshmen with a family income of less than $55,000 has more than doubled. “When you get right down to it, it’s fundamentally a great thing,” Moscato says, “in terms of access to the university and openness of the applicant pool. I think all of us who have set off down this road are going to see lasting benefits beyond the college experience, as far as students having more choices after they graduate because they’re not weighed down by undergraduate debt.”

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