“When colleges review applications, all but a few consider a student’s ability to pay. As a result, high-achieving applicants from low- and middle-income families are routinely denied seats that are saved for students whose families have deeper pockets. This hurts the son of a farmer in Nebraska as much as the daughter of a working mother in Detroit.” So wrote Michael Bloomberg in an essay in the New York Times this week.
Bloomberg, who is an entrepreneur with his fingers in dozens of pies and a personal net worth over $50 billion, is also a philanthropist. He’s signed Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge, swearing to give away at least half his fortune in his lifetime. In keeping with that oath, he has just announced a donation of $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University, the largest donation to an American college on record.
Bloomberg’s goal with this donation is to make Hopkins’s admission process into the egalitarian ideal it tries to be; truly need-blind. While this is common in public universities, very few private universities practice need-blind admission.
In light of the donation, Hopkins hopes to make a number of changes, mostly financial. They intend to reduce or eliminate the loans that 44 percent of attending students have needed, lower their tuition in general, and provide increased research and study-exchange opportunities for low-income students.
Johns Hopkins University, which was founded in 1876 by the Quaker Johns Hopkins, has always tended towards philanthropy. Even so, the current yearly cost of attendance is over $60,000. Like all of the other top-ranking universities in the United States, that tuition cost bars too many from admission. Bloomberg’s donations, which add up to a grand total of $3.4 billion, are a strong movement towards making a good education available to people from all economic classes.
”America is at its best when we reward people based on the quality of their work, not the size of their pocketbook,” Bloomberg wrote. “Denying students entry to a college based on their ability to pay undermines equal opportunity. It perpetuates intergenerational poverty. And it strikes at the heart of the American dream: the idea that every person, from every community, has the chance to rise based on merit.”
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