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Ohio State University launches a plan to raise millions to eliminate student loan debt

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Ohio State University has launched an ambitious, 10-year plan to raise $800 million to eliminate all loans from financial aid packages given to undergraduates.

The school, which graduates more than 8,000 undergrads a year, says about half of those students graduate with debt. On average, graduates leave the university owing about $27,000, an amount that is in line with national averages for students completing a bachelor’s degree.

The debt-elimination plan would cost Ohio State about $110 million a year, provided to students through scholarships, work opportunities and paid internships. Philanthropy will be the largest component of the initiative, but Johnson said the university is also working with state lawmakers to increase student aid.

The move by Ohio State follows efforts in recent years by other universities, but most have been at smaller, more selective schools, like Amherst College in Massachusetts, and among the Ivy League. Ohio State is one of the largest universities in the country with more than 40,000 undergraduates.

The plan would begin with a pilot program for 125 incoming freshmen next fall, expanding to include all undergraduates over the next decade.

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