Michael Bloomberg’s $1.8 Billion Donation to Johns Hopkins University

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Michael Bloomberg’s $1.8 Billion Donation to Johns Hopkins University

Rebecca Tao, Staff Writer

As of 2018, the average cost of tuition to a private college is a whopping $34,740 and the cost of tuition for an out-of-state public college is $25,620. Due to these ungodly costs, many students choose to take out student loans and end up owing a large sum of money. However, American entrepreneur and billionaire Michael Bloomberg made the weight of debt for these students much lighter by marking the largest contribution ever made to an education institution in U.S. history with a $1.8 billion donation to Johns Hopkins University, a private university in Baltimore, Maryland, in an effort to lower the cost of tuition. While Bloomberg’s action is received as incredibly generous and cohesive to some, others argue that his donation will do little to change the hefty cost of tuition for many students.

In an article published by The New York Times, Bloomberg himself describes his distaste for the system of weighing in an applicant’s household income and class some colleges utilize to filter students. Bloomberg also expresses the impact going to Johns Hopkins University had on his life (the school is his alma mater)  and revealed that he made his donation to the school after he graduated, although it was only $5. From that point, the school has made efforts in being “need-blind”—meaning that the school accepts students based solely on their merit and academic achievements. Bloomberg envisions a future for the school to be forever “need-blind” and “be able to permanently open that same door of opportunity for others.” He also believes that if the school transforms into an entirely “need-blind” school, it will create socioeconomic change opportunities for those with low/middle-class backgrounds and also prevent intergenerational poverty. Furthermore, while Bloomberg acknowledges individual advances to a better college opportunity to a greater variety of people, he also criticizes the federal and state governments for their petty attempts of improving the access people have to college as well as their lack of support for families with financial burdens. He ends his article defending his bold action with the powerful statement, “there may be no better investment that we can make in the future of the American dream — and the promise of equal opportunity for all.”

The media has responded to Bloomberg’s contribution with a myriad of reactions. For example, some say that he was wise to pick Johns Hopkins as the receiver of his donation as the school has only a $3.8 billion endowment—a measly amount compared to schools like Stanford ($24.8 billion) and Yale ($27.2 billion). On the other hand, some people argue that there is a landslide difference in the number of students attending private and public universities as 7.4 million people are enrolled in a public university while 3.4 million people are enrolled in a private four-year college. Moreover, some people attributed the rising tuition prices to the declining support and funding state governments are providing colleges and universities. Others compared Bloomberg’s efforts to the efforts of officials in Tennessee. Four years ago, Tennessee launched its free community college program and it only cost the state $350 million. Additionally, people also bring up the fact that Bloomberg’s donation will do little to affect the socioeconomic variety and need-blindness of the school as they state that there is a direct correlation between merit and resources to wealth.

Overall, the opinions on Bloomberg’s generous decision is split debating the effectiveness of the $1..8 billion. Will tuition be free at Johns Hopkins University? Nope. But will his contribution benefit students in difficult socioeconomic situations? It is still too early to tell so we’ll have to wait and see.

Image courtesy of CNBC.COM