Why Michael Bloomberg Is Donating $1.8 Billion to Fund Scholarships at Johns Hopkins

The former mayor sees his gift as just one step towards education finance reform.

Michael Bloomberg put himself through college at Johns Hopkins University. He left college debt free, even though his father never made more than $6,000 a year—it was clearly a different era.

Today, the national student debts in the U.S. totals over $1.4 trillion. The crippling financial burden has caused millions to default on their loans, and many more to delay starting families or purchasing homes. And those are the people who were able to pay for college at all—for many, it's no longer a viable financial option.

Michael Bloomberg speaks at John Hopkins's 125th Anniversary dinner in 2001

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recognizes this problem, and is prepared to do something about it. He's donated $1.5 billion to his alma mater over the years, but has now announced his intention to give an additional $1.8 billion solely for Johns Hopkins's financial aid programs.

It's the largest single contribution ever made to an educational institution, according to ABC News. The funding will allow the college's admissions process to become need-blind, no longer taking students' financial situations into account when selecting a Freshman class.

He laid out his plan in a New York Times op-ed, writing that while his donation was generous, he couldn't hope to solve the problem alone. "Hopkins is one school," Bloomberg wrote. "A recent analysis by The Times found that at dozens of America’s elite colleges, more students came from the top one percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent of that scale—even though many of those lower-income students have the qualifications to get in."

The John Hopkins University campus

He identifies three actionable steps: improving college advising programs in public schools, augmenting financial aid programs at individual colleges, and asking alumni to increase their individual donations. Still, he admits, this alone will not be enough.

"These steps alone are not sufficient," he wrote. "Federal grants have not kept pace with rising costs, and states have slashed student aid. Private donations cannot and should not make up for the lack of government support. Together, the federal and state governments should make a new commitment to improving access to college and reducing the often prohibitive burdens debt places on so many students and families."

Hopefully, someone in power will hear his plea—and that of the millions of Americans struggling under the weight of their student debts.

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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