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President Announces Sweeping Financial Aid Initiative

Guarantees access, quality, and economic diversity
James Wright
James Wright

Beginning next academic year, Dartmouth students whose families earn less than $75,000 per year will pay no tuition, and loans for financial aid students will be replaced with scholarships through a phased-in program. President James Wright recently announced the changes as part of a package of new financial aid initiatives designed to ensure that Dartmouth continues to attract the most talented and diverse students from across the nation and around the world.

Other major components include the introduction of need-blind admissions for international students, who currently comprise 7 percent of the undergraduate student body, and one leave term with no earnings expectation to allow students to take full advantage of internships and other opportunities. All of the changes go into effect with the 2008-09 academic year. (Members of the Class of 2012 will have no loans, while those in the Classes of 2009, 2010, and 2011 will see a 50 percent reduction.)

 "Dartmouth is committed to the philosophy that the cost of a college education should not be a deterrent to prospective applicants," said President Wright in announcing the changes. "The range and richness of our student body is a core strength of Dartmouth, a strength that is advanced by our financial aid programs."

One of a small number of colleges and universities that has remained need-blind in the admissions process and that has sustained its commitment to meet the full need of students, Dartmouth has enhanced its financial aid offerings several times in recent years. "During this time, we have looked carefully at the changing needs of prospective students and their families, and at the nexus between academic quality, competition for the best students, diversity, accessibility, and post-graduation plans," explained Wright. "We have developed this initiative because it is responsive to these factors, enables us to remain competitive, and is distinctly Dartmouth."

Currently, more than 48 percent of undergraduate students receive need-based scholarships from Dartmouth. The average scholarship per student is $30,400 per year towards the cost of tuition, room, board, and other expenses.

"We have always been one of the most economically diverse schools among our peers," observed Wright, "and this initiative will ensure that we continue to attract the best students and that they and their families will not be deterred by the share of tuition, room, and board that they have until now been asked to pay.

"There is a wonderful synergy at Dartmouth," he continued. "High academic expectations define the students who come here, and in a recent survey of non-tenured tenure track faculty, the quality of the students was at the top of the reasons they identified for being satisfied at Dartmouth. This is the essence of the strength of the Dartmouth experience."

Dartmouth currently spends $61 million per year providing financial aid compared to $24.5 million in 1998-an increase of 250 percent. The new initiative will cost an additional $10 million per year when fully implemented. The additional expense will be paid for through the reallocation of resources and the use of funds generated by an increase in the distribution from the endowment to 6 percent approved by the Trustees last year.



  • Free tuition for students who come from families with annual incomes below $75,000
  • Replacing loans with scholarships
  • Need-blind admissions for international students
  • Junior leave term with no earnings expectation
  • More detailed information

Podcast: Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris '84 and Director of Financial Aid Virginia Hazen

AskDartmouth: Questions and answers about Dartmouth's new financial aid initiative

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Last Updated: 7/24/18