Reducing the Burden of Student Debt

When Robert Steele ’71 MPH, ’75 Ph.D. graduated from the Yale School of Public Health more than thirty years ago, a combination of federal and Yale-based student aid allowed him to receive his diploma debt free.

While the cost of higher education has since risen sharply, Dr. Steele was surprised to learn exactly how much financial burden many public health students now shoulder to pursue a field dedicated to promoting the common good.

It is easy for a student to accrue $50,000 of debt in a single year, and by graduation that amount can be well into six figures.

“I was shocked that students were starting their careers with that kind of debt,” said Dr. Steele, who is currently executive director of the University of Maryland’s David C. Driskell Center.

A recent donation from Dr. Steele and his wife, Jean, has created a scholarship for underrepresented minority students at the Yale School of Public Health. The couple also helped establish the Creed/Patton/Steele Scholarship Fund at the School.

“I want to give students a chance to get on with their careers,” Dr. Steele said of the newly created scholarship. “I thought that this was a wonderful way to do my part.”