Bloomberg's record gift helps Johns Hopkins realize key goal of need-blind admissions

$1.8B donation in support of financial aid will allow university to eliminate student loans from financial aid packages for all current and future undergraduates

Michael R. Bloomberg seated a table with students

Image caption: Businessman and philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg hosts Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Scholars in New York in 2017.

Image credit: Bloomberg Philanthropies

Michael R. Bloomberg's historic $1.8 billion gift in support of financial aid at Johns Hopkins will fuel student access and mobility, ensuring that a Hopkins education is within reach for qualified, high-achieving students, regardless of their ability to pay.

The donation—the largest-ever single contribution to a college or university—will guarantee that Johns Hopkins can commit permanently and publicly to need-blind admissions, making it a loan-free institution and drastically reducing the financial burden on students and their families.

It marks the fulfillment of a pledge made by Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels at his installation in 2009, when he committed the university to becoming permanently need blind, a key priority of his presidency also reflected in the university's strategic vision, the Ten by Twenty.

It also marks the realization of the vision articulated by the university's founder and namesake, that Johns Hopkins be able to welcome students based on "their character and intellectual promise" rather than their financial circumstances.

"This historic gift reflects Mike Bloomberg's deep belief in the transformative power of higher education and his insistence that it be accessible to all qualified students, regardless of financial means."
Ronald J. Daniels
President, Johns Hopkins University

"We have long sought to honor this directive, and we have been supported by a legion of committed donors," Daniels wrote Nov. 18 in a message to the Johns Hopkins community announcing Bloomberg's donation, but have lacked the endowment to support such endeavors in perpetuity.

"Now, as a consequence of Mike Bloomberg's extraordinary gift, we will be fully and permanently need-blind in our admissions and be able to substantially enrich the level of direct assistance we provide to our undergraduate students and their families."

Bloomberg's gift will eliminate student loans from financial aid packages for all current and future undergraduate students, replacing them with scholarships. This new policy will apply immediately to current students for the spring semester.

Beginning in the fall of 2019, the university will remove student loans from all financial aid packages and replace them with scholarship aid.

In announcing his gift in a New York Times op-ed, Bloomberg—a 1964 Johns Hopkins graduate—identified access to college for low- and middle-income students as a significant national challenge.

"As a result, they often lose out—and so do colleges that would benefit from their talents and diverse perspectives," Bloomberg said. "Our country loses out, too."

By building a financial aid program designed to maximize student access and mobility, Johns Hopkins will rank among the top universities in per-student financial aid support.

"Johns Hopkins is profoundly grateful to Mike Bloomberg for his unbounded vision and generosity," said Jeffrey Aronson, chair of the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees. "Like his alma mater, Mike strives to make the world a better place, always leading by example. His unparalleled gift opens up a world of equal opportunity for generations of Hopkins students to come."

Noah Smith, a sophomore neuroscience major from Cincinnati and the first person in his family to attend college, said Hopkins would not have been an option for him without scholarship support.

As a Bloomberg Scholar—a program enhanced and deepened as part of a $350 million gift from Bloomberg in 2013—he receives support that allows him to attend his first-choice college.

"Now I can actually think about going to medical school," Smith said, "because even though that's going to involve a lot of debt, I don't really have to worry about that adding onto undergraduate debt.

"There's a whole lot more to gain than just that scholarship," Smith added. "There's a career in front of me that [Bloomberg] gave me."

Bloomberg's unprecedented gift will create similar opportunities for generations of Hopkins students.

"This historic gift," Daniels said, "reflects Mike Bloomberg's deep belief in the transformative power of higher education and his insistence that it be accessible to all qualified students, regardless of financial means."