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Dam the Debt Fall 2016

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    President Sheila Bair meets with some of the seniors graduating in fall 2016 who are eligible for Dam the Debt.
December 15, 2016

Washington College’s Dam the Debt Program helps lower debt by 12.8 percent for seniors graduating in fall semester.

Dam the Debt, Washington College’s program to lower student loan debt, is back in action helping students who are graduating at the end of the fall 2016 semester. College President Sheila Bair today announced that the College will provide $22,000 for distribution among eight eligible graduating seniors who are carrying subsidized federal loan debt this semester.

“I’m pleased to announce that we have continued to generate funding for this program through generous individual and corporate donors,” President Bair says. “Last spring, we provided $315,000 to eligible graduating seniors, and we are excited to continue this for students who are finishing up in this fall semester of 2016.”

Dam the Debt will reduce $22,000 in federally subsidized loans for eight graduating seniors from five states. Amounts vary depending upon the students’ loans, but the average reduction is $2,750. The students will receive a grant from the College toward their financial aid package intended to replace the amount of the students’ federally subsidized loans taken out for the fall 2016 semester. The average total federal loan debt—subsidized and unsubsidized—for students receiving the Dam the Debt grant is $21,419. As a result of the Dam the Debt grants, the students will see, on average, a 12.8 percent reduction in their total federal loan burden when they finish their Washington College career. 

As one of her first initiatives to tackle the problem of student loan debt, President Bair inaugurated Dam the Debt last year, and to date the program has raised nearly $1.2 million committed over four years. Donors include BB&T, Avant, TD Bank, Santander Bank, blooom, Inc., and John and Peggy Bacon. The College hopes to raise at least $1 million more for future debt reductions for qualifying seniors who are graduating each semester. At its launch in May, the program reduced the federally subsidized loan debt of 119 qualifying seniors by an average of $2,630, a 10.2 percent reduction in their total federal loan burden.

Dam the Debt represents only one facet of Bair’s campaign to increase college affordability and access. In November, the College announced FixedFor4, a new plan that fixes tuition at the same rate for the entire four years of an undergraduate’s career at Washington College. In August, the first group of students in George’s Brigade matriculated as part of the Class of 2020; this program provides full tuition, room, and board to high-need, high-achieving students. Also in August, the College announced the Saver’s Scholarship, a College-matched award up to $2,500 annually, for students and families who use proceeds from a 529 or Educational Savings Account for tuition.

President Bair spearheaded these programs in response to the growing student debt crisis and to make college more accessible and affordable. As college degrees have become increasingly valuable, but wages have remained stagnant, many students and families have had to rely on financial aid to pay for higher education.

“The manner in which we at Washington College are committed to educating our students—with low teacher-to-student ratios, small class sizes, extensive opportunities for hands-on learning, one-on-one faculty mentoring, and post-graduate career and graduate school placement—is the best way to provide high-quality undergraduate education,” President Bair says. “Unfortunately, it is not inexpensive. So we are equally committed to finding creative, realistic ways to make this education more affordable for everyone.”


Last modified on Dec. 15th, 2016 at 9:39am by Wendy Clarke.