Columbia Journalism School Commemorates First Anniversary of Loan Repayment Assistance Program

May 16, 2024

One year ago today, Dean Jelani Cobb and Columbia Journalism School launched the pilot Loan Repayment Assistance Program, the first of its kind for graduate journalism schools.

Since his announcement, the school approved over 30 alumni for this transformative educational debt relief — and the beneficiaries are making proven, positive impacts on local and non-profit newsrooms. This first cohort was offered over $300,000, allowing them to pay off a significant portion of their student loans.

“Finding out that the journalism school would start offering loan repayments was on par with the level of excitement I felt getting into Columbia in the first place,” said Ben Angarone, ‘22 M.A. Politics, a staff member at the Honolulu Civil Beat, which was named a 2024 Pulitzer Finalist for Breaking News Reporting.

With its continuing investment into this program, Columbia Journalism further cements itself as a steadfast supporter of rigorous, representative, and ethical journalism — and of its highly skilled graduates who want to make a difference in the industry.

Following the long-standing model of law schools and medical schools, CJS introduced this program to reinvent the business model for its industry. By providing financial aid to graduates working in nonprofit organizations, LRAP increases access into today’s newsroom for tomorrow's reporters.

"As local news outlets evolve, I see hope on the horizon,” said Dean Jelani Cobb. “Our graduates have a unique opportunity not just to work for vital local organizations, but to shape their future. In today's media landscape, this program is more vital than ever.”

LRAP is a pillar of support for these deeply important roles, helping to draw top talent to local communities, and embracing a vibrant nonprofit sector. Ultimately, the school under Dean Cobb’s leadership stands as a bulwark in the face of growing news deserts. This year, CJS further invested in local news reporting as part of its curricular experience. 

"[LRAP] helps instill a sense that the nonprofit work is valued in a particular way, which I do sincerely think has affected how I consider my position in the industry. That we are unequivocally in the business of public service," said Champe Barton, ‘19 M.S., who now works for The Trace.

The importance of accessibility in journalism is as important as ever. CJS graduates working full-time in the public interest sector may receive up to $50,000 over five years of participation. Learn more about the program and eligibility: https://journalism.columbia.edu/lrap.

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