Gift that keeps on giving: College reduces debt as graduation present

An aerial view of the Washington College campus and Chestertown, Maryland, United States. © Wikipedia
Graduating college students may expect to receive gifts such as a briefcase, a vacation, or a gift card from an uncle they barely know. However, students receiving diplomas from Washington College are getting something even more special: less debt.

The average student at Washington College in Maryland can expect to leave with approximately $25,794 in federal loans, the Washington Post reported. However, the graduating class of 2016 will see that number drop by an average of $2,630, thanks to the school.

As a result of the gift from the Dam the Debt program, 119 students will have their debt reduced by an average 10.2 percent, as Sheila C. Bair, president of Washington College, has used the program to receive donations from various banks, such as Santander Bank, BB&T bank, and TD Bank.

We want our students to be both academically and financially prepared when they graduate from college,” Blair told the Washington Post. “And we are just getting started.

She’s not wrong. The campaign has raised almost $1 million so far and has a goal of doubling that number for future grants.

With total student debt in the United States currently standing at $1,344,854,604,302 (that’s over a trillion dollars) and growing by $2,726 every second, programs like this could offer relief at a difficult time. The Obama administration has also attempted to assist students by directing several federal agencies, including the Department of Education and the Social Security Administration, to forgive $7.7 billion of student loans to around 400,000 people with permanent disabilities.

Student debt reform is a hot button issue in the US. In November, over one hundred campuses across the United States will participate in a march against student debt and for free public college.

A loan refinancing information company, LendEDU, recently ran a study posing questions to 477 California undergraduate and graduate students from three Bay Area campuses. It found that most American students don’t even know basic facts about the money they owe or how it can be collected.