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Letters from alumi about financial aid at PU

February 10, 2002

Well, I'm finally going to do it. This letter finally put me over the edge. One more invitation to the Class of 2000 to support, among other things "... generous financial aid policies that allow talented students to graduate free of student loan debt." I don't believe (all) student debt is a bad thing. There, I said it.

So clearly, I must be part of some aristocracy who dares to thumb his nose at the working class poor not even giving them a chance in the world; wanting these poor suffering students to wallow in debt for years to come. I'm not opposed to financial aid. Princeton has so much money and can do so much good, it should forgive debt ... if you go volunteer in inner city schools, help craft legislation, or join the Peace Corps, among other things. When I was a student, I vividly remember Princeton's best and brightest traipsing off to convince McKinseyBainDeloitteToucheMerilILynchLehmanBrothers that they were indeed the best and the brightest. It's not that I object to students applying to the Woodrow Wilson School only because it's supposedly an "honors" liberal arts major and will improve their chances that a Lehman Brothers banker will smile benevolently on them. (Okay, I actually do object to this.) What I object to is subsidizing their education only to watch them make six figures in a few short years. If they need it, why shouldn't they have student loans and pay them back? More important, instead of forgiving all loans, shouldn't we be crafting a program to strengthen Princeton's creed: "in the nation's service"? Work for a nonprofit, your loans are forgiven. Work for (and get paid a lot by) Goldman Sachs, pay back your loans.

So bring it on. Send me all your vitriolic criticism, your hate mail. My phone is set to automatically transfer you to Stephanie Ramos '00, my class agent. Her operators are standing by, eagerly awaiting your donation to the Princeton Goldman Sachs Class of 2010.

Nelson Cheng is a corporate cog at one of those "big businesses" and luckily didn't have to worry about loans and financial aid because his parents graciously paid all his bills.

Nelson Cheng '00
Seattle, Wash.

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June 12, 2001

In early February, I interviewed Micah Hall, valedictorian-to-be at Machias Memorial High School in Machias, Maine.
Shortly thereafter, Princeton's trustees announced the abolition of student loans in favor of scholarships. I called Micah, who had also applied to UMO, Bowdoin and Harvard. He replied, "Unless the others follow suit, I'm going to Princeton." The others did not follow, and Sunday, June 10, I drove Downeast to Machias to hear Micah's valediction "forbidding taking oneself too seriously." In September 2001, he will matriculate with the Princeton Class of 2005.
Three reflections: First, in abolishing student loans and assuring students they'll graduate debt-free, the trustees’ stewardship of the university's endowment was magnanimous.

Second, that magnanimity will diminish undergraduates’ fear of graduating with debt and liberate them to take courses for the sake of the courses themselves rather than courses as means to ever-higher-paying jobs to repay debts.

hird, the trustees' decision gives ASC members an extraordinary edge when interviewing high school students. Three Cheers for our Nassau.

Cuthbert Russell Train ’64
Northeast Harbor, Maine

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