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

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

  • 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.

Befriend your ideological opposite. It’s fun.

Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
  • Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
  • "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

Physicists find new state of matter that can supercharge technology

Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
  • The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
  • Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
Keep reading Show less

Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
Surprising Science
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
Keep reading Show less

How to heal trauma with meaning: A case study in emotional evolution

As tempting as it may be to run away from emotionally-difficult situations, it's important we confront them head-on.

Videos
  • Impossible-sounding things are possible in hospitals — however, there are times when we hit dead ends. In these moments, it's important to not run away, but to confront what's happening head-on.
  • For a lot of us, one of the ways to give meaning to terrible moments is to see what you can learn from them.
  • Sometimes certain information can "flood" us in ways that aren't helpful, and it's important to figure out what types of data you are able to take in — process — at certain times.
Keep reading Show less