University of Texas to offer free tuition for low-income students

The university will also offer partial financial aid to middle-income students.

University of Texas to offer free tuition for low-income students
Image source: Wimedia Commons
  • The University of Texas at Austin will completely cover tuition for some qualifying low-income students, and partially cover tuition for some middle-income students.
  • Students hoping to benefit from the program will still need to achieve the grades necessary to be accepted into the university.
  • The move comes at a time when student loan debt is a key issue among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.



The University of Texas at Austin plans to create a program that will make tuition more affordable for low- and middle-income students.

The University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously voted to establish a $160 million endowment that, as Forbes reports, will:

  • Completely cover tuition and fees for students from families that earn up to $65,000.
  • Provide some financial aid to students from families with incomes of up to $125,000.

Only in-state students will be eligible for the program, which starts in the fall of 2020. The program is expected to completely cover tuition (but not board or living expenses) for some 8,600 low-income undergraduates, and about 5,700 middle-income students. The average in-state tuition at UT Austin is $10,314.

"Recognizing both the need for improved access to higher education and the high value of a UT Austin degree, we are dedicating a distribution from the Permanent University Fund to establish an endowment that will directly benefit students and make their degrees more affordable," Chairman Kevin Eltife said in a statement.

Students must first be accepted into UT Austin — one of the nation's most selective public universities — to benefit from the program. For context, Texas high school students must graduate in the top 6 percent of their class to be automatically accepted by the university, while students with lesser grades typically have to compensate with a high ACT score.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times editorial board said society has an incentive to help high-achieving, underprivileged students attend university:

"If you qualify on both accounts, UT should be especially interested in enrolling you because it means you overcame more challenges to make those high grades than a rich kid who made high grades. Your demonstrated achievement suggests that by helping you, UT helps us all, and that by not helping you, UT and society in general run the risk of squandering your talents.

"Philosophically, this program should appeal to Texans of all political persuasions because it's a hand up, not a handout."

National student loan debt

Most 2020 Democratic presidential candidates want to make it financially easier for students to attend college, and for borrowers to pay off loans. Some candidates — among them, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — want to make college completely free. Setting aside the economic implications of such policies, it's easy to see why some candidates and many Americans want to tear down the financial hurdles that come with obtaining higher education.

According to Student Loan Hero and other 2019 statistics:

  • Some 44 million Americans collectively owe $1.56 trillion in student loan debt.
  • American student loan debt now represents a bigger debt category than both credit cards and auto loans.
  • The average monthly student loan payment is $393.
  • 11.5 percent of student loans have been delinquent or in default for more than 90 days.

How tiny bioelectronic implants may someday replace pharmaceutical drugs

Scientists are using bioelectronic medicine to treat inflammatory diseases, an approach that capitalizes on the ancient "hardwiring" of the nervous system.

Left: The vagus nerve, the body's longest cranial nerve. Right: Vagus nerve stimulation implant by SetPoint Medical.

Credit: Adobe Stock / SetPoint Medical
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Bioelectronic medicine is an emerging field that focuses on manipulating the nervous system to treat diseases.
  • Clinical studies show that using electronic devices to stimulate the vagus nerve is effective at treating inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Although it's not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, vagus nerve stimulation may also prove effective at treating other diseases like cancer, diabetes and depression.
Keep reading Show less

Smart vultures never, ever cross the Spain-Portugal border. Why?

The first rule of Vulture Club: stay out of Portugal.

The first rule of Vulture Club: stay out of Portugal. (Image: Eneko Arrondo)
Surprising Science

So you're a vulture, riding the thermals that rise up over Iberia. Your way of life is ancient, ruled by needs and instincts that are way older than the human civilization that has overtaken the peninsula below, and the entire planet. 

Keep reading Show less

Best. Science. Fiction. Show. Ever.

"The Expanse" is the best vision I've ever seen of a space-faring future that may be just a few generations away.

Credit: "The Expanse" / Syfy
13-8
  • Want three reasons why that headline is justified? Characters and acting, universe building, and science.
  • For those who don't know, "The Expanse" is a series that's run on SyFy and Amazon Prime set about 200 years in the future in a mostly settled solar system with three waring factions: Earth, Mars, and Belters.
  • No other show I know of manages to use real science so adeptly in the service of its story and its grand universe building.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise changes your brain biology and protects your mental health

Contrary to what some might think, the brain is a very plastic organ.

PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images
Mind & Brain

As with many other physicians, recommending physical activity to patients was just a doctor chore for me – until a few years ago. That was because I myself was not very active.

Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Here's a 10-step plan to save our oceans

By 2050, there may be more plastic than fish in the sea.

Quantcast