UT for free? Regents OK new financial assistance plan

University of Texas campus. (UT photo)
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AUSTIN, Tex. (KBTX)- The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted Tuesday to establish a $160 million endowment from the state’s Permanent University Fund that will generate funds to completely cover tuition and fees for in-state students whose families earn no more than $65,000 a year.

More than 8,600 undergraduates will benefit from the assistance.

“This will benefit students of our great state for years to come,” Board Chairman Kevin Eltife said.

Funds generated by the endowment will also provide tuition support to students with incomes of as much as $125,000 who have financial need.

That assistance will benefit another 5,700 students, the university said.

The median household income in 2017 in Texas was $59,206, according to U.S. Census figures.

“There is no greater engine of social and economic mobility than a college degree, and this initiative ensures that more Texans will benefit from a high-quality UT Austin education,” Chancellor James B. Milliken said.

“The use of Permanent University Funds to invest directly in students demonstrates the strong commitment of the Board of Regents and UT Austin to the values of public higher education,” he said.

The Permanent University Fund includes income from oil and gas royalties earned from state-owned land in West Texas.

Since 2011, Texas A&M University has had the Aggie Assurance Program, which covers the tuition for all students whose families’ have an adjusted gross income of $60,000 or less. Last year, the program paid the tuition for 6,726 students.

In April 2018, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents created the Regent’s grant and set aside $30 million to provide undergraduates with one-time grants that help them overcome unforeseen financial hardships. The grants target students from families with adjusted gross incomes between $40,000 and $100,000.

As for the $83.3 million allocated Tuesday, Laylan Copelin, vice chancellor for marketing and communications at the Texas A&M System, said: “We will discuss with our Regents how best to spend this money for the benefit of our students.”

“It is important for Texans to have better access to public education. I applaud the University of Texas for following our lead," said Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young.