Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is donating $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. It’s the largest contribution ever made to an education institution in the United States. The stated goal of the donation is to make it easier for low- and middle-income students to attend the college. It will be used as financial aid for undergraduate programs only. In a New York Times op-ed published Sunday, Bloomberg expressed his dismay at the fact that financial resources are an obstacle to higher education.
“No qualified high school student should ever be barred entrance to a college based on his or her family’s bank account. Yet, it happens all the time.”
He added that denying students from low- and middle-income families access to higher education “undermines equal opportunity” and continues the cycle of generational poverty. He also referred to its impact on the quest for the American dream.
“It strikes at the heart of the American dream: the idea that every person, from every community, has the chance to rise based on merit.”
The university states that due to the sizeable donation, they will be able to have a truly “need-blind” admissions process, enabling student admission to be based only on academic performance instead of an additional consideration of ability to pay. Financial aid provided from Bloomberg’s donation will help create a more diverse student population and allow the university to provide students with funds that don’t have to be repaid. Johns Hopkins will also create lower levels of family contributions for families exhibiting a need for financial aid, and provide “comprehensive student support.”
NEW: Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg is donating $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University – the largest contribution ever made to an education institution in the U.S. https://t.co/GAjS0Hmcfn pic.twitter.com/ZHVyiRGwiE— ABC News (@ABC) November 18, 2018
Michael Bloomberg graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1964. In 1965, he made his first contribution to the school in the amount of $5. In 2013, he pledged $350 million for cross-disciplinary education and financial aid to the university. His latest pledge of $1.8 billion is in addition to $1.5 billion he has already given to Johns Hopkins.
ABC News reports that Johns Hopkins president Ronald J. Daniels commented on the significance of Bloomberg’s latest donation.
“Our university was founded in 1876 by a visionary $7 million gift from the Baltimore merchant Johns Hopkins. When it was announced, it was the largest gift of its kind. It created America’s first research university and changed the face of American higher education. With today’s announcement of Mike Bloomberg’s $1.8 billion investment in financial aid, history has repeated itself.”
In his op-ed, Bloomberg said that as the son of a bookkeeper, he was able to attend Johns Hopkins only because he was able to obtain a student loan and hold down a job on campus. He credited his college education with providing opportunities he would not have otherwise had and the ability to live the American dream.