Billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg is donating a record $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, to offer more financial aid to low- and middle-income students.
“I want to be sure that the school that gave me a chance will be able to permanently open that same door of opportunity for others,” Bloomberg, former mayor of New York, wrote in a New York Times op-ed Sunday. The donation, apparently the largest ever to a higher education institution, will allow Johns Hopkins to be permanently “need-blind,” meaning that applicants’ financial situations are only looked at after they’re accepted.
Bloomberg said he attended Hopkins thanks to a National Defense student loan.
“My Hopkins diploma opened up doors that otherwise would have been closed, and allowed me to live the American dream,” he wrote.
He implored other schools to expand financial aid offerings and encouraged initiatives like his CollegePoint foundation that help lower-income students apply to college.
“Our dedicated financial aid endowment was simply too small,” Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels said. “Now, as a consequence of Mike Bloomberg’s extraordinary gift, we will be fully and permanently need-blind in our admissions and be able to substantially enrich the level of direct assistance we provide to our undergraduate students and their families.”
Starting in fall 2019, the Baltimore-based university will do away with student loans, replacing them entirely with scholarships, Daniels said. The funds will also provide immediate loan relief to existing students and will reduce family contributions to financial aid in order to eventually create a student body with 20 percent eligible for federal Pell grants by 2023 (which only provides a maximum of $6,095 per year per student).
Bloomberg is reportedly considering a 2020 presidential run, and changed his voter registration from Republican to Democrat last month.
“We need Democrats to provide the checks and balance our nation so badly needs,” he said.