Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson is making short-term plans to get campus life back to normal and long-term efforts to help students graduate debt-free.
Speaking on WOSU All Sides with Ann Fisher on Wednesday, Johnson developed the debt-free university initiative she announced during her very first state of the university speech. She explains that currently, approximately 4,500 students graduate with an average debt load of $ 27,000.
“It’s over $ 100 million a year,” she says. “So you have to take this big problem and break it down. So you spread it out over 10 years, which means every year you have to find a replacement for $ 10 million, and it makes up, doesn’t it? “
Johnson says philanthropy, paid internships, and lowering the overall cost of attendance will play a role in reducing student debt. The university will also work with students to aggressively seek federal financial aid that may be available.
Congress and President Joe Biden’s administration weigh much larger shots to help those struggling with college loans, but Johnson insists that effort is still an important part of helping students start successful careers.
“What I’ve heard is a lot of talk about loan cancellation,” she says. “But then if we don’t fix the path or the pipeline, we’re just going to rack up debt again, so you know, I think we can be a leader nationally.”
In terms of campus life, Johnson expects a “return to normal” by the fall, but some public health measures may continue. She says masking in particular has shown significant results in preventing COVID-19 and other illnesses on campus.
“In February of last year, 2020, there are 6,600 hospitalizations from the flu, you know, the common flu, not the coronavirus infection,” Johnson said. “This year? Ninety-two.”