April 24, 2008 by Mara Strom
Don’t you just love it when your alma mater does something newsworthy that makes you truly proud to say you went to school there? Well, that’s what happened to me yesterday, when I learned some great news about Tufts University!
My alma mater recently unveiled its plans to be the first university in America to help encourage students to work in the public sector by paying off their student loans. Tufts grads working either for non-profit organizations or for government agencies will be eligible for the award, which will cover a portion of their monthly loan payments and make certain career choices a lot more viable.
In 2005, Tufts reported that the average starting salary for one of its grads working in the public sector was about $25,000 a year (more for government, less for non-profit), while private sector job holders earned just over $40,000 their first year out.
Here’s what Tufts University president Lawrence Bacow has to say about the new Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP):
I’m hoping that our students’ career choices will not be distorted as much as they are otherwise by the debt they’ve acquired in financing their education. I’m hoping the university can help them follow their passion.
and this, too:
We would like alumni to be able to pursue their passions – to do what they really want to do – without being unduly focused on the need to retire a student loan. It is especially appropriate for Tufts to make this commitment, since as an institution we seek to encourage a spirit of public service in our students.
Here’s what I’ve got to say about the program:
Right on, Jumbos! I’m proud of you for taking this important step and I hope your program will serve as a shining example for other schools around the country. I love that you’re putting some bite behind your bark about civic leadership and education. And I especially love that you’re opening up this groundbreaking program to alumni as well as current students. (It’s almost a shame I finally finished off paying my Stafford Loan two years ago!)
According to insidehighered.com, about half of Tufts’ current undergraduates take out student loans, carrying an average debt burden of $14,400. The annual cost of attending Tufts today runs just over $46,000.
Alumni can download the LRAP application here. Award decisions are based on income level and total indebtedness and are made annually.
For more about loan forgiveness, check out this recent post about federal government student debt reduction programs.