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Brown University gets $100 million gift for financial aid

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Brown University has received a $100 million gift, the largest single donation in its 240-year history and one that will allow the university to restructure its financial aid program.

The gift, earmarked for financial aid, will allow Brown to eliminate loans for students with the greatest need, replacing them with scholarship funds.

"The most extraordinary feature of the gift is really the elimination of loans. It's hard to convey how important it is for families, low-income families, to be spared the burden of taking out loans," said Ruth Simmons, Brown's president.

The donation comes from Sidney Frank, who attended Brown for one year as a member of the Class of 1942. He left to represent Pratt & Whitney Motors in Asia during World War II.

Frank recently gave $20 million for a new campus building which will carry his name.

Frank made his money as a distilled spirits importer, and is credited with the marketing success of products including Jagermeister Liqueur and Grey Goose Vodka. He is chairman of Sidney Frank Importing Co., Inc., which he founded in 1972.

Frank said he could not afford to complete his Brown education, and wanted to help other students finish their degrees.

Currently, the neediest Brown students must take between $9,000 and $15,000 in loans during their four years at the university.

"It affects the students' choices while they are students, it affects the parents' ability to send other children to college. It's quite crippling," Simmons said, adding she hopes the change will show low-income high school students that private universities are open to them.

Starting next fall, 130 entering students will be designated Sidney E. Frank Scholars, and will not face the loan requirement.

Simmons said as the endowment fund grows, the university will expand the number of Frank scholarships.

Brown has revamped its financial aid program in recent years. The university admitted last year's entering freshman class under a new need-blind admissions policy.

Previously, the university considered a student's ability to pay in its admissions process.

Brown also eliminated a work-study requirement for first-year students beginning with the Class of 2006, and replaced those funds with additional scholarships. 

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