People across the country are trying to learn from Davidson College, where students can attend four years of classes without ever taking out a loan.
College President Carol Quillen spent a day in Washington showing lawmakers how Davidson manages the program.
The college made news in recent years with its Davidson Trust program. The program does away with student loans and replaces them with more financial aid and grants, which means less debt for needy students.
The school’s president told U.S. Senators they are doing with significant financial contributions from alumni.
“We sustain it because our alumni, faculty and staff believe in it in an ongoing way,” Quillen said.
Quillen said other small liberal arts college could experiment with similar programs.
Congress wanted to hear from Quillen because it is looking for experimental ideas. The president and Congressional Republicans are gridlocked over what to do to wildly exploding college costs.
Nationwide, college student loan debt is about to top $1 trillion.
President Barack Obama just proposed a sweeping program to hand out $1 billion to states that do the best job keeping college costs from rising too fast and a $7 billion increase in government college loan money for needy students.
But the ideas are getting kickback and are considered by some to be unworkable or a government overreach.
“I don’t believe government’s role is to pick winners and losers,” North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr said Thursday in the hearing. “An incredible process happens when colleges get overpriced. People choose to buy something. They choose to go somewhere else.”
U.S. Senate leaders wanted to hear about the Davidson College program, a possible solution to the now-crippling student debt problem nationwide.
But even Davidson’s president acknowledged it’s something on other small liberal arts schools could attempt.
After graduation, the average student is between $20,000 and $40,000 in debt. Most Americans now owe more on student loans than they do on credit cards.