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Dartmouth to raise income maximum for full-tuition scholarships

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/13/2021 9:55:23 PM
Modified: 5/13/2021 9:55:20 PM

HANOVER — Future Dartmouth College students whose families make up to $125,000 will be able to qualify for full-tuition scholarships without taking out any loans, the college announced this week.

The decision raises Dartmouth’s current threshold which offers a full-tuition award to students whose families make up to $100,000. It will go into effect in 2022, beginning with students who would be from the Class of 2026, Dartmouth said in a news release.

Dartmouth’s tuition currently stands at just under $58,000 per year. Students who qualify for the scholarship will only need to apply for financial aid to receive the full tuition. It does not cover room and board.

Dartmouth College trustees in March approved a 2% increase in tuition, room, board and fees for the 2021-22 school year, raising the total to $78,010.

The increase to the scholarship threshold is part of a larger plan Dartmouth has to eliminate loans from all financial aid awards, which officials say will affect 25% of the student body. This particular increase is due in part to a record-breaking $90 million in scholarship gifts, which the college received since the spring of 2020, according to school officials. Dartmouth hopes to increase the threshold again to students with a family income of up to $150,000, though it needs an additional $13 million to make that happen.

“This decision removes a barrier to educational opportunity for them and is a major step toward reducing post-college indebtedness for our students,” Julie McKenna, a co-chair of a commission on financial aid established by Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon, said in the news release.

She called middle-income families sending children to college “uniquely stressed.”

The college announcement said the new income level would be geared to families with annual household income of $125,000 or less and “typical assets,” indicating that a wealthy family can’t game the program by limiting its income for certain years.

The news puts Dartmouth closer to the range of other, similar schools, which offer full-tuition scholarships to lower and middle-income students as well.

At Princeton University students of the 2023 class who applied for aid with family incomes of up to $160,000 typically pay no tuition, according to Princeton spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss.

At Harvard University, families with incomes between $65,000 and $100,000 contribute up to 10% of their income, while families below that household income are not expected to contribute, the school website said.

The news also puts Dartmouth ahead of some other similar schools, like Cornell University, which offers a full tuition to people whose families make $60,000 or less.

Others like Yale University take students’ need-based scholarship requests on a case-by-case basis with the average need-based scholarship being $50,000 per year, according to its financial aid website.

Dartmouth this week also announced a new, $8 million emergency fund to help students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dartmouth in September said its endowment had generated a return of 7.6% for fiscal year 2020 and had risen to a record $5.98 billion.

Anna Merriman can be reached at or 603-727-3216.

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