In 2007, Davidson College became the country’s first liberal arts institution to eliminate loans from its financial aid packages. Through The Davidson Trust, the college pledged to meet 100 percent of an admitted student’s demonstrated financial need through a combination of grants and employment. The Duke Endowment supported the effort with a $15 million grant.
Although it’s too early to measure the long-term impact, campus officials say The Davidson Trust is helping the college expand the vision of a quality education. Davidson has seen a 29 percent increase in applications from domestic students of color and a 37.5 percent boost in applications from first-generation college students. The college is also attracting students from a wider range of high schools and enrolling 25 percent more students with need-based aid.
When Davidson President Carol Quillen spoke recently at a Congressional hearing on “Innovations in College Affordability,” she admitted the effort involves a large financial commitment – but the college believes it’s an important step in “bridging the privilege gap.” “We are changing the face of society’s leadership,” she said, “and striving to make equal opportunity real.”