April 16, 2024

EDITORIAL | Cornell, Say No to Student Loans

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Seven out of eight of the Ivy League colleges have eliminated student loans from their financial aid packages. The only one missing? Cornell. Duke, Northwestern, M.I.T. and a whole host of other high-ranking non-Ivies around the country have already decided to do the right thing and meet 100 percent of their students’ calculated financial need without loans. 

Increasingly, elite institutions of higher learning are realizing what we students have been saying all along: Student loans are not only a barrier to entry but a burden that can weigh on us long after graduation. 

Cornell’s promotional materials deceptively paint a rosy picture of the University’s financial aid offerings. Staring down the barrel of a $92,000 annual price tag before aid, students are nonetheless told that the school ensures accessibility and affordability to all who are eligible. But that’s really just an empty promise. Time and again, Cornell has disadvantaged its undergraduates, except, of course, the most privileged few. 

As the University’s endowment balloons, the decision to keep students out of crippling debt should be easier than ever. So why is Cornell still forcing us to choose between an Ivy League education and future financial stability?  

The answer is greed — the best word to describe Cornell’s business model. An ongoing lawsuit charges Cornell and other top universities with colluding with one another “in a price-fixing cartel” to limit financial aid for admitted students. So much for need-blind admissions. To date, the majority of those 17 universities implicated in the legal case have paid up: The total settlement is now well over $280 million. Unsurprisingly, Cornell hasn’t given back a penny and remains a defendant.  

Not only does our University stand accused of illegally conspiring to cut down on the financial aid it provides to students — Cornell is also among the last of a dying breed of elite colleges that refuse to stop offering student loans, despite having the wherewithal to easily do so. 

Cornell has lost sight of its founding commitment to “any person, any study” in favor of a couple more zeroes on an administrator’s paycheck. Whether it’s meting out loans that will come back to bite us or allegedly colluding with other wealthy colleges to nickel and dime us, Cornell is sending a message that if you can’t afford tuition, you have no place on this campus.  

Cornell, we students can all agree, is a better place when we aren’t doomed to a life of never-ending debt.

The Sun firmly believes that the University should take a lesson from many of its competitors and provide grants to students in need rather than pile education debt on them. At a time when Cornell clearly favors the rich in admissions, with students from the top one percent vastly overrepresented, the administration has a duty to level the playing field. So Cornell, it’s time to stop working against the economic interests of students and finally adopt a no-loan policy.

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