Pitt Launches Initiative to Support Education Debt Relief and Student Success

The University of Pittsburgh has announced the launch of an innovative program related to financing higher education.  

Panthers Forward, an initiative of Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, will accommodate up to 150 seniors who will graduate from the Pittsburgh campus in the spring of 2019. Once accepted into the program, participating seniors will each receive up to $5,000, which the University will pay toward their eligible federal student loan balance upon graduation.

Apply to Panthers Forward

Seniors must complete a brief online application to be considered for the program. The application period will run from Monday, Oct. 8, to Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Additional details are available on the Panthers Forward website.
Read the chancellor’s letter to potentially eligible seniors.

As alumni, participants will be asked — but not required — to “pay it forward” via monthly contributions. All donations to Panthers Forward will be reinvested to support future generations of participants and to strengthen and sustain the program. Over time, participants will also become part of an exclusive network of Pitt alumni who will share their professional experiences, perspectives and advice.

“Panthers Forward injects some much-needed innovation into the stagnant landscape of higher education financing,” said Gallagher. “It’s a bold new approach that utilizes a pay-it-forward philosophy and the power of community to position students at the University of Pittsburgh for lifelong success.”  

The University’s Offices of the Chancellor and Institutional Advancement have partnered with Altian Education, a firm founded by three Pitt alumni, for the program’s launch.

“Panthers Forward is not something we’ve seen before,” said Pat O’Donnell (ENGR ’14), Altian Education co-founder. “It is taking one of the most pressing issues facing students today — college debt — and creating a new option that’s more financially flexible, collaborative and professionally focused.”

A Closer Look: Panthers Forward  

  • This program is open to full-time students on the Pittsburgh campus who are in good academic standing and have received a federal loan to help finance their senior year.
  • Once accepted into the program, participants will have access to an exclusive network of alumni-mentors who are dedicated to supporting the students’ professional success.
  • Shortly after participants graduate, the University will apply funds directly to their federal loan balance. 
  • As Pitt alumni, participants will have an opportunity to “pay it forward” to Pitt students who are following in their path. Donations to Panthers Forward are tax-deductible.
  • Participants are under no contractual obligation to donate up to or more than the amount applied to their federal loan balance, but their voluntary support is critical to sustaining the program and helping future Pitt Panthers.
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