Damali Davis had a college picked out. She knew what she wanted to study.
All she needed was an opportunity.
That opportunity arrived in the form of an acceptance letter and a Bloomberg Scholarship from Johns Hopkins University, lessening the financial burden of college for Davis and her family and allowing her to pursue a degree in the nation's top-ranked biomedical engineering program.
"The scholarship definitely made my decision to come to Hopkins a lot easier," said Davis, one of the more than 500 undergraduates who have attended Johns Hopkins as Bloomberg Scholars over the past five years. "Being able to come here and pursue biomedical engineering was like a dream come true."
With his historic $1.8 billion gift in support of financial aid at Johns Hopkins, Michael R. Bloomberg has extended a similar, life-changing opportunity to all current and future Johns Hopkins students, ensuring a Hopkins education is within reach for qualified students, regardless of their ability to pay.
Bloomberg's transformative donation will allow the university to commit permanently to need-blind admissions and expand and deepen the financial support students receive, helping to relieve the burden of student loan debt.
"It's really exciting," Davis said. "I know a lot of people right now are struggling with debt. So to see that this could impact the rest of their time at Hopkins and help them financially is really just amazing."
As a result of Bloomberg's gift—the largest ever given to a college or university—Johns Hopkins will replace student loans with grant aid in all financial aid packages for current and future students. The university will begin immediately by replacing loans with scholarships for any current undergraduates with federal loans in their spring financial aid packages.
Inspired by Bloomberg's own experiences as a Hopkins undergraduate, the gift reflects his belief that access to a world-class institution like Johns Hopkins provides the opportunity for students from different backgrounds to engage and collaborate with others who share a passion for inquiry.
"This monumental gift is a sign of Michael Bloomberg's support for ensuring access and affordability in higher education," said David Phillips, JHU's vice provost for Admissions and Financial Aid. "It will ensure that the extraordinary educational opportunities offered by Johns Hopkins are available to every student, regardless of their financial resources."
Unburdened by the prospect of loan debt, Phillips said, students will now be more free to take full advantage of all that Hopkins has to offer and to pursue their interests at Hopkins and beyond.
"We hope that Michael Bloomberg's generous gift will provide the peace of mind for many of our students to pursue their true passions and explore the many exciting areas of study available in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences in the Krieger School," said Beverly Wendland, dean of the university's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.
Added Ed Schlesinger, dean of JHU's Whiting School of Engineering: "It is difficult to fully appreciate the breadth and depth of impact of this gift. This support will allow us to ensure that our doors will always be open to the brilliant and passionate young scholars who deserve a Johns Hopkins education. We can now be a real possibility for those driven students who, previously, might not have applied because they dared not dream that they could afford to attend. And Johns Hopkins will be richer for their inclusion in our community."
College affordability is a significant and persistent obstacle for middle- and low-income students, limiting access and perpetuating income inequality. With Bloomberg's gift, Johns Hopkins can strengthen its existing efforts to admit and support low-income and first-generation students, leading to significant increases in the university's socioeconomic diversity.
By 2023, at least one-fifth of JHU's undergraduate student body will qualify for federal Pell Grants, a federal grant that supports students from low-income families. Currently, about 15 percent of Hopkins undergrads are eligible for Pell Grants.
That type of diversity, Davis said, will benefit not only future students, but the university as a whole.
"People from socioeconomic backgrounds who may not have considered Hopkins for college because of money can now come study here," she said. "I think it's going to impact a lot of people's lives. And it will also positively impact Hopkins by bringing in a different and a more diverse group of people."