USC

USC Will Offer Free Tuition for Some Families as Part of Major Financial Aid Changes

The policies announced Thursday include free tuition for students of families earning $80,000 or less and major change for financial aid calculations

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What to Know

  • Tuition will be eliminated for families earning $80,000 or less annually
  • The school will no longer consider home equity in financial aid calculations for applicants
  • The two new policies will be rolled out in phases with the first-year students enrolling in fall 2020 and spring 2021

USC will eliminate tuition for families earning $80,000 or less annually, part of an effort to increase access for middle and low-income students, the school announced Thursday.

The new policies were announced in a statement by USC President Carol Folt.

As part of the plan, the school will no longer consider home equity in financial aid calculations for applicants.

"We really want this to be an institution where great students can attend regardless of their financial background," Folt said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "Education should be the great bridge across income that really is the equalizer and makes our talented, hardworking students able to make real contributions."

Removing home equity from the equation will help many Californians who have seen their home values increase, but little change in their incomes, Folt told the Times. The home equity might be what prevents some parents from putting their children through school, she said.

Financial barriers should not be a deal-breaker for students with the merit and motivation to attend a top-tier research university like USC.

Trenton Stone, the USC undergraduate student government president

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"Financial barriers should not be a deal-breaker for students with the merit and motivation to attend a top-tier research university like USC," said Trenton Stone, the USC undergraduate student government president. “This plan will help make our incredible university community more accessible to a wider range of individuals from diverse financial, geographical and cultural backgrounds."

The two new policies will be rolled out in phases with the first-year students enrolling in fall 2020 and spring 2021. About one-third of each class will benefit, USC said in a statement.

"We’re opening the door wider to make a USC education possible for talented students from all walks of life," Folt said. "This significant step we are taking today is by no means the end of our affordability journey. We are committed to increasing USC’s population of innovators, leaders and creators regardless of their financial circumstances. Investing in the talent and diversity of our student body is essential to our educational mission."

Undergraduate aid will be increased by more than $30 million annually, the school said in a statement. Once the plan is in full swing, stronger financial assistance will be available to more than 4,000 students every year, according to USC.

Folt is a former chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who became USC's president last year as the university dealt with a series of major scandals, including the college admissions bribery case.

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