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For some, MIT for free

I was happy to read about this today:

MIT announces need-based financial aid plan - The Boston Globe

As a donor to MIT, I am happy to see them using their endowment to make MIT more affordable for more students.  MIT isn't the first to do this, but they are as aggressive as anyone in raising the maximum income for a student to attend free ($75K), in not counting home equity in the calculation, and in eliminating loans as part of the financing package for lower income students.  There is more information in this letter from President Susan Hockfield to the MIT Community.  There are some interesting facts in here:

  • Average net tuition for MIT students was only $8,100.  Of course, about 10% pay in full and more than one-quarter now will pay zero.
  • Median debt for MIT graduates is only $11,500.  This is very low for a top-tier school.
  • More than half of the class of 2007 graduated debt free.

Of course, there are self-serving reasons for doing this.  Harvard, Yale, Stanford and others have made similar moves, and MIT has to compete.  Also, Congress has been pressing many universities to use their large endowments for just this purpose.  But, as I have kept in touch with some of today's MIT undergraduates, I know how significant the financial strain of going to MIT is.  This type of move should provide some welcome relief.

It's great to see the donations of the alumni being used to lighten the load of those who come afterwards.  The only thing missing is a reminder to today's undergraduates that they will have a responsibility to do the same after they graduate and are successful.

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