Starting in 1928, the Hattie M. Strong Foundation (HMSF) has run what it believes to be one of the earliest and most successful student loan programs in the country. The foundation supports “young people of promise” in their pursuit of higher education across all fields of study in all regions of the country. Strong Foundation loans always charged zero interest and offered flexible repayment schedules tied to the economic realities of a student’s career choice.

In 2009, the HMSF Board of Directors decided to confront a different kind of economic reality: the astonishingly high levels of debt that today’s college graduates must incur to complete their studies. Rather than make available yet another layer of debt, the board decided to stop lending money and to simply give it away.

In alignment with its traditional focus on education, the foundation replaced its student loan program with a scholarship program aimed at college students enrolled in teacher-training programs. Specifically, the HMSF hopes to reduce financial pressure during the student-teaching semester, when a student’s ability to offset expenses with outside employment is curtailed by the rigor of full-time work in the classroom.

See the document below for additional details, or view the July 2014 profile of the Strong Foundation on NCFP’s Family Giving News blog.

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