The University of Southern California is joining the ranks of schools around the country that are making college education more affordable by offering free tuition to students from lower- and middle-income families.
The private university announced that tuition and fees will be free for students whose families make $80,000 a year or less.
More than 48,000 students attend USC. According to U.S. News, the school is ranked No. 22 in the 2020 edition of Best National Universities, and its tuition and fees are $58,195. So this is going to be a huge reduction in student loan debt for those who qualify!
On Feb. 20, USC President Carol L. Folt announced two new policies that will help make higher education accessible to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it. The free tuition policy for students whose families have an income of $80,000 or less will begin with first-year students entering USC in the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021. In addition, owning a home will not be included in the calculation the school uses to determine a student’s financial need.
“People work so hard to have a house,” Folt said during the announcement, according to The New York Times. “And we didn’t want that to count against their chances of having their kids going to the school.”
The school tweeted out the news about their new financial aid policies, and hundreds of people liked and shared it:
Two new policies will make a USC undergraduate education more affordable for those who most need financial assistance! https://t.co/IHcuP2aQkc
— USC (@USC) February 20, 2020
The university is increasing undergraduate aid by more than $30 million annually. Doing so will allow the university to offer substantial financial assistance to more than 4,000 students a year once the expansion is fully implemented. The increase will help an estimated one-third of the 2020-2021 entering class.
Folt told the Los Angeles Times that USC chose the threshold of $80,000 to align with California’s median household income, which was $71,000 in 2017. This number also to makes USC consistent with the University of California campuses, which offer a free-tuition Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan at that income threshold. While 57% of UC undergrads meet the threshold, just 20% of USC undergraduates do.
“We’re opening the door wider to make a USC education possible for talented students from all walks of life,” Fold said in a statement.
While the financial aid benefits will be available to residents of California as well as students from other states, it will not be offered to students from other countries.
Transfer students are not eligible for the new initiative. However, they may be eligible for financial aid under previous policies.
Other large universities have made moves to make college more affordable in recent years, too. The University of Texas at Austin announced a similar policy last year, for in-state students from families that make $65,000 or less. New York has a large scholarship program for students from lower-income families at public universities as well.