Stanford University has announced that it will be extending its free tuition program to include all students whose families make less than $125,000 per year, raising the previous cutoff from $100,000. Students whose family incomes are below $65,000 will also receive free room and board, up from $60,000.
“Our highest priority is that Stanford remain affordable and accessible to the most talented students, regardless of their financial circumstances,” Provost John Etchemendy said in a statement. “Our generous financial aid program accomplishes that, and these enhancements will help even more families, including those in the middle class, afford Stanford without going into debt.”
Family assets are also taken into account in the calculations. Households with a net worth above $300,000, not including retirement savings, are typically ineligible for the aid.
Considered to be one of the best universities in the world, undergraduate tuition for the 2015-16 school year is set at $45,729. An additional $14,107 covers room and board.
Shanell Williams, currently a student at the City College of San Francisco, said she will be applying to Stanford to attend next year as a junior in Urban Studies.
“This is excellent news for low-income students who in these times are very much concerned about how we’re going to pay for college,” said Williams, a former foster youth whose mother is on disability.
The University of California has a similar program, waiving its undergraduate tuition of $12,192 for students of families who earn less than $80,000. Williams will be applying there as well.
Stanford recently announced it had offered spots to 2,144 undergraduates from a pool of 42,487 applicants, the largest group in the history of the school. Of those to be admitted, 16% are first-generation college students, writes Nanette Asimov for SFGate.
A new report from Vox.com said future college students should not expect the financial aid program to become available at all schools across the US, as Stanford is only able to fully subsidize the tuition of some students due to the high number of wealthy students who attend the school. In addition, the school is one of the wealthiest in the nation, having an endowment of $21 billion.
However, some schools are offering reduced tuition for all students in order to increase enrollment. Almost a dozen private colleges have participated in the effort for the current school year. Tuition and fees were cut by 23% at Southern Virginia University, while Converse College in South Carolina has cut its prices by 43% to only $16,500 each year, reports Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post.
The efforts are all part of a movement to help students who previously did not qualify for aid but end up graduating college with large amounts of debt as tuition costs continue to rise. The average student debt last year was $33,050, an increase from $15,313 in 1993 using inflation-adjusted dollars, writes Douglas Belkin for The Wall Street Journal.