UT Austin to give free tuition to low-income students...and illegal immigrants
- The University of Texas at Austin will raise the threshold for household income that will afford a student free tuition from $30,000 to $65,000.
- School spokesman J.B. Bird told Campus Reform that “in keeping with state law, students are not asked about their immigration status."
The University of Texas at Austin is giving out free tuition, but only to students whose families make less than or equal to $65,000, including non-citizens and illegal immigrants. Other students are eligible for some financial help, but not complete coverage.
In early July, UT Austin announced the program, which will begin in 2020 and is referred to by the university as an “investment in the future for students.”
The university’s Board of Regents voted to establish a $160 million endowment via Texas’ Permanent University Fund. This endowment will be used to cover the full tuition cost of approximately 8,600 undergraduates whose households earn no more than $65,000 per year and the partial tuition of another 5,700 students with household incomes up to $125,000.
“Our main focus at the UT system is our students. That’s it, that’s what we’re in business for is to provide an affordable, accessible education for our students,” UT system board chair Kevin Eltife said, according to The Texas Tribune. “We all know the struggles that hardworking families are having putting their kids through school. What we’ve done here is repurposed an endowment into another endowment that will provide tuition assistance to a lot of the working families in Texas.”
UT was already covering tuition costs for students with a household income of $30,000 or lower.
UT Austin spokesman J.B. Bird told Campus Reform that as a result of state law, these benefits will also be afforded to illegal immigrants so long as they have graduated from a Texas high school. “In keeping with state law, students are not asked about their immigration status,” Bird added. He referenced SB 1403, a Texas state law, which he characterized as having “provided equal access to higher education for graduates of state public high schools, regardless of their immigration status.”
“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,” UT Chancellor James B. Milliken said, adding that “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.”
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