(JTA) — Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will donate $1.8 billion to his alma mater Johns Hopkins University, allowing the prominent Baltimore school to eliminate student loans from financial aid packages for incoming students.
The gift, which is reported to be the largest private donation to higher education, will begin in the next school year and expand grants to low- and middle-income students.
“No qualified high school student should ever be barred entrance to a college based on his or her family’s bank account. Yet it happens all the time,” Bloomberg, who is Jewish, wrote in an op-ed published Sunday in The New York Times announcing the gift.
“Denying students entry to a college based on their ability to pay undermines equal opportunity. It perpetuates intergenerational poverty. And it strikes at the heart of the American dream: the idea that every person, from every community, has the chance to rise based on merit.”
The donation is in addition to the some $1.5 billion that Bloomberg, 76, has donated to the school in past years to support research, teaching and financial aid.
Bloomberg said in his op-ed that his first donation to the school the year after he graduated was $5, which was all he could afford.
Johns Hopkins President Ronald Daniels told The Washington Post that “as a consequence of Mike Bloomberg’s extraordinary gift, we will be fully and permanently need-blind in our admissions and be able to substantially enrich the level of direct assistance we provide to our undergraduate students and their families.”
Bloomberg, who with great fanfare last month re-registered as a Democrat, is rumored to be planning a run for president in 2020. He considered Independent runs for the White House in 2008, 2012 and 2016.