Washington University in St. Louis has a city named after it, sort of. Its huge campus borders University City and Clayton and also Forest Park. Sometimes I think that U. City with all of its restaurants, shopping, theaters, and bars was built to accommodate the students. I also have a couple of other associations with the school. My uncle went there and received his engineering degree and my personal physician, whom I’ve known for about twelve years now, heads up the Diabetes Center there. It was great to see him start out as a bright young doctor practicing internal medicine and then become one of the foremost leading authorities on metabolic diseases in the country.
Washington University was founded in 1853. One of the founders was William Greenleaf Elliot, who was the father of the Nobel Prize laureate poet T.S. Elliot. The university was originally named Elliot Seminary, but the name was changed just a year later to Washington Institute in St. Louis to reflect its original location at 17th and Washington in downtown St. Louis. That name was later changed to Washington University because there were so many other institutions with the same name. (www.wikipedia.com)
Washington University has become one of the top schools in the country. Some twenty-two Nobel laureates have been associated with the college. Its school of medicine is ranked fourth in the country and has done pioneering research in a number of diseases. It is closely associated with Barnes teaching hospital. (www.wikipedia.com)
Now, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, (www.stltoday.com) Washington University as well as some other elite, wealthy schools have decided to turn loans for students whose families make less than $60,000 per year into grants that don’t have to be paid back. Students who qualify will be able to graduate debt-free but it is likely that they will still have to contribute some amount towards their tuition. Admissions selectivity at Wash U. is 6th in the nation, tied with Columbia University. The full price to attend the university including tuition, fees, and room and board is about $49,000. It’s estimated that the program will cost the school about $2.5 million the first year. The school currently has an endowment of $5.7 billion.
All this would have come as good news to my friend Jason. Jason attended a prestigious college on the east coast and has accumulated some $60,000 in student loans. He is close to getting his degree in computer sciences but he fears that he will not be able to get a high enough paying job to pay off the loan. He was recently married and is expecting his first child. He and his wife currently live in the basement of his parent’s house. Both of his parents make well under $60,000 put together.
I think that it’s a great trend that some of these elite schools are making it easier, at least financially, to attend.