The University of Texas at Austin announced Tuesday plans to establish a $160 million endowment from the in-house Permanent University Fund to secure full scholarships to local undergraduates whose parents make $65,000 or less per year.
The academic institution estimated that the move would allow it to offer free education to some 8,600 in-state bachelor students. In other words, a quarter of the university's freshmen would benefit from the new policy as of fall 2020.
In addition to that, the fresh capital would add to the current federal and state aid funding programs to alleviate part of the financial burden of some 5,700 Texas-based students whose families declared income of $125,000 or less. The university also pointed out that some of the money came from the oil and gas royalties earned on state-owned land.
The University of Texas' decision to offer free education to students in need comes in times when the idea gains popularity nationwide. Some of the presidential candidates, especially the Democrats Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have already encouraged free public college and student debt forgiveness.
In April 2019, Elizabeth Warren proposed an ambitious $1.25 trillion education plan to target the increasing college tuition fees and the student debt crisis. Warren opted to eliminate all the costs at two-year and four-year public universities to a federal partnership with states to split the expenses. In a nutshell, she would want to incorporate the principles of our K-12 education system into the public higher education.
Another 2020 Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders also announced plans to make college education free. Moreover, he would also erase all the student debt worth $1.6 trillion. As Sanders estimated, it would cost $2.2 trillion over ten years, and a Wall Street tax would pay it.
The University of Texas has not confirmed yet whether it would employ a need-blind approach to admissions. However, the school joined the club of several other institutions to offer full-tuition scholarships to students below a certain income threshold.
For instance, in 2018, the University of Michigan started offering a similar scholarship to in-state students whose families make less than $65,000 per year. Furthermore, Rice University, a private school in Texas, announced a decision to cover the tuition fees for students earning less than 130,000 per year.
What is your opinion? Do you support or oppose the idea of making public universities free?