University of Houston offers 'free' tuition to even more students

"Why is college ridiculously expensive in the first place?" one student asked.

An expansion to an existing program at the University of Houston will guarantee free tuition for any Texas student with a family income below $65,000.

The University of Houston is offering free tuition for students with family incomes at or lower than $65,000 per year. 

“The Cougar Promise program has existed since 2008 as UH’s commitment to ensure a college education is accessible to students from low and middle-income families,” University of Houston Director of Media Relations Chris Stipes told Campus Reform. While the program has existed for years, it is now being more widely applied. Stipes explained that the university has “increased the income threshold to impact more students.”

The program now provides free tuition for all in-state students with a family income of less than $65,000 per year. Additionally, students with family incomes below $125,000 are eligible for partial tuition discounts. 

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Covered through many different grants, the Cougar Promise will only cover tuition expenses and mandatory fees. Assistance for room, board, and textbooks is available through separate programs.

Incoming freshmen for Fall 2020 will qualify for the updated program as long as they are Texas residents meeting the financial qualifications. 

In order to remain eligible, they must maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA with 24 credit hours per year.

[RELATED: UF offers in-state tuition for illegal immigrants]

"There's nothing wrong with wanting to help someone in need. But where do we draw the line? Based on the requirement, this plan does not help out of state students or low-income students currently involved. It also doesn't consider the academic qualifications of the applicant. What if they decide college isn't for them? All that money is now wasted." UH student Tamon Hamlett told Campus Reform.

"All in all, this doesn't address the underlying issue. Why is college ridiculously expensive in the first place?" Hamlett added. 

The move by UH comes as colleges nationwide have lost millions amid the economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. As UH provides free tuition to those from families making less than $65,000 per year, those making anything above that threshold will pay 3.46 percent more in tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year than in 2019-2020, joining a growing list of colleges raising their tuition yet again. 

UH also joins a growing list of universities making tuition free for middle and low income students. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @RachelLalgie