Many students know that in November 2014, the Jaharis Family Foundation, Inc. bestowed $10 million to the College. However, what some students might not know is that $2 million of that gift went towards establishing the Haverford Student Loan Debt Relief Fund.
This program specifically intends to provide loan assistance to recent Haverford graduates “who are either unemployed [or] in careers of high societal value but low remuneration that did not otherwise qualify for student loan debt deferral,” explained Ann Figueredo ’84, Vice President for Institutional Advancement.
Alumni will be able to submit applications each year to a committee that will make evaluations and then decide on the eligibility of the request. If the committee accepts, “funds [are] provided up front to graduates that they can use to make payments on their loans,” said Jess Lord, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid. Qualified graduates are able to benefits from such a fund for a maximum of three years.
The fund was influenced by student response to the college’s course of action at the end of the 2013-14 academic year. In the spring of 2014, the Board of Managers’ decision to make alterations on the no loan policy startled the campus. The policy, which eliminated loan expectations from students’ financial aid packages, became untenable when the college’s endowment took a devastating hit from the 2008 recession.
Fords for Affordability (F4A), a student-run organization formed in response to the Board’s November 2013 announcement that they were changing the no-loan policy, led a series of discussions with faculty, students and senior staff, and protested the decision to drop the policy, which had long distinguished Haverford from its peer institutions.
Though F4A led the student charge, the group promoted the encounter to the entire student body. The attendance was substantial.
“[The] turnout was well over 100 students … we filled the auditorium so that every step was covered with body,” recounted Ian Gavigan ’14, one of the greatest contributors to F4A.
Students expressed their concerns, and the administration responded. The claustrophobic feel of the room, the frustration and the support all meshed to produce an environment with the democratic characteristics that Haverford strives for.
“It was the first instance of such widespread student organizing I experienced during my time at Haverford,” Gavigan said.
At the culmination, the administration made a proposal about the debt relief fund they would eventually adopt. After receiving the $10 million donation, “We then reached out to the Jaharis family with the proposal [for the fund], and they loved it,” said President Dan Weiss.
The debt relief program should leave students optimistic for further courses of action. “
[The fund] is a great program,” Gavigan commented. “It will help future students. It is a great first step in the direction of a financial aid program that makes Haverford affordable to all students.”
Yet Gavigan also stressed that while Haverford is moving in the right direction, it has by no means reached the finish line. A more financially available institution will result in a greater influx of interested students from all kinds of backgrounds, thus heightening the potential for the diversity of opinions that is crucial in the establishment of a well-rounded community.