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Pomona College Replaces Loans with Scholarships, Eliminates Student Debt

Pomona's Board of Trustees approved the elimination of loans in financial aid packages on Wednesday, Dec. 12. Those amounts will be replaced by scholarships, effective 2008-09, and this financial aid change will apply to both current and future students.

“Pomona College has a long-standing tradition of accessibility,” noted a pleased Pomona College President David W. Oxtoby. “We already admit students without regard to financial need and meet the full need of every accepted applicant. This change will allow us to more directly address misperceptions about the affordability of a Pomona education and to remove any impact of student debt on students’ career choices.”

Currently, 53 percent of Pomona’s students receive some financial aid, with 10 percent of the current freshman class already receiving financial aid packages with no loan component. In 2007-08, Pomona will spend approximately $21.6 million of college funds on scholarships. The College estimates that the new policy will cost an additional $2.3 million per year.

“The elimination of loans from financial aid packages is another step in Pomona’s concerted efforts to ensure that a Pomona College education remains accessible to and supportive of all qualified students,” notes Patricia Coye, director of financial aid.

In each of the last 20 years, more than 50 percent of Pomona students have received financial aid. Since 1988, financial aid packages for students with the most financial need have not included loans during the students’ first two years of study. For the last five years, Pomona College has increased financial aid spending by $1 million or more each year.

In recent years, Pomona College has also increased its recruiting efforts among high-achieving, lower-income students. Additional admissions officers were hired to focus on under-represented students and partnerships with the Questbridge Program and the Posse Foundation were added to longstanding relationships with A Better Chance, the Center for Student Opportunity, College Match (Los Angeles), the Fulfillment Fund (Los Angeles), Prep for Prep (NYC), Young Black Scholars of Los Angeles, the Teak Scholars Foundation (NY), and the local Bright Prospects Program, among others.

To reach out to the surrounding community, Pomona began its own college prep program in 2003 for local, low-income high school students, the Summer Scholars Enrichment Program. The no-cost, four-year program provides a core curriculum focused on math, critical thinking and writing skills, taught by Pomona faculty, and workshops on admissions and financial aid. Two classes of students have graduated through the program, and all are now attending college.