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On Tuesday, the university announced that its Board of Regents voted to establish a $160 million endowment to give assistance to lower- and middle-income families.
“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.
Through the endowment, tuition will be completely covered for families that earn up to $65,000 per year with a need for financial aid – which is an estimated 8,600 undergraduates. It will also provide support to students whose families earn as much as $125,000, which could cover another 5,700 students.
Average in-state tuition and fees for undergraduates at the university total $10,314, only in-state students would be eligible beginning in fall 2020.
It is an expansion of a policy that began in 2018, that covered costs for families earning less than $30,000.
According to the school, the funds will include money from oil and gas royalties earned on state-owned land in West Texas.
College affordability has become a particular concern as graduates struggle to stay on top of mounting student loan debts. Outstanding student loan debt has surpassed $1.5 trillion, second only to mortgage debt. The average borrower has nearly $40,000 in student loan debt.
The issue is generating an increasing amount of attention on Capitol Hill, and lawmakers are proposing solutions that include everything from “canceling” student loan debt for millions to spotlighting more work-study programs and apprenticeships.
However, due to the discussion of such grandiose proposals, Andrew Pentis of Student Loan Hero told FOX Business there have been fewer in-depth discussions regarding reducing the actual costs of college.
Tuition and fees for the 2018-2019 school year averaged $35,830 at four-year private, nonprofit institutions, according to data from The College Board. At public four-year in-state institutions, the average was $10,230 – and $26,290 at public, four-year out-of-state colleges.