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A college education is a hefty financial investment. Many students need to borrow money to secure the funds necessary to get that degree. According to Forbes, borrowers in the U.S. owe approximately $1.7 trillion in student loan debt, ranking this type of debt second only to home mortgage loans.
One of the largest universities in the U.S. has announced a goal to eliminate the need for students to take out loans over the next 10 years.
Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio — which enrolls around 40,000 undergraduates — plans to raise $800 million to help prospective students avoid going into massive debt in order to get an education.
“It’s not free college, it’s not free tuition, but can we take one of the largest universities in the country and develop pathways for our students so that they can graduate debt-free?” Kristina Johnson, the president of Ohio State, told NPR.
The initiative, known as the Scarlet and Gray Advantage, will be developed over the next 10 years, but starts during the Fall 2022 semester. Ohio State’s new plan encourages students to take “an active role in graduating debt-free” with the university’s support in three main areas:
- Scholarships: Ohio State plans to raise $800 million in scholarship money with “a matching program supported by the university and lead donors will double up to $50 million in private donations (of $100,000 or more) that establish new endowments or support existing ones for scholarships.” In addition to more scholarship money, Ohio State will also make grants more accessible to students.
- Work-Study Opportunities: Ohio State said it plans to expand its network of employers willing to work with students through paid internships. These opportunities will also help to build students‘ networking abilities and job skills during their college years.
- Coaching and Education: Ohio State will offer counseling in financial literacy, leadership and career placement to students in the Scarlet and Gray Advantage Program.
Students who attend any of the Ohio State campuses can enroll in the Scarlet and Gray Advantage Program. In the coming weeks and months, Ohio State will “select 125 low- and middle-income first-year students in Autumn 2022 to be part of a Scarlet & Gray Advantage pilot that will hone strategies to optimize university services and identify opportunities to further enhance student support,” according to the plan document.
Ohio State said it will release more information sometime in early 2022. To learn more about the Scarlet and Gray Advantage Plan, you can visit the initiative’s website.