A mind is a terrible thing to waste. But as the cost of college tuition continues to soar, the opportunity to ensure no such wasting occurs isn't always feasible.
On Tuesday, Rice University announced that next fall would welcome the launch of The Rice Investment, an initiative to provide U.S. students pursuing an undergraduate degree with family incomes under $130,000 with full tuition. Those who have family incomes under $65,000 will receive grant aid to cover school fees and room and board.
"Talent deserves opportunity," Rice President David Leebron said.
Additionally, the program looks to aid students whose families make between $130,000 and $200,000 by providing grants that cover at least half of their tuition. According to CNN, the plan will impact continuing students who are eligible based on need.
“This bold step reflects our founding principles,” Leebron said. “When Rice opened its doors in 1912, we didn’t charge tuition. Rice changed its charter in 1965 to begin charging tuition but immediately began offering scholarships to eligible students. This significantly builds on that legacy and on our commitment to make a Rice education accessible and affordable for students from all backgrounds.'
The private university joins fourteen other U.S. colleges and universities that offer free tuition. The plan also comes amidst steadily rising tuition costs at both public and private universities across the nation. Tuition and fees at private colleges reportedly rose three percent for the current 2018-2019 school year, according to US News & World Report. The average cost of tuition and fees for a private institution is $35,676; however, Rice's currently sits at $46,600 a year.
Expanding the university's access and affordability is a call to diversity and inclusion. It's also an effort to reduce student debt and make the institution "accessible and affordable for students from all backgrounds," Leebron said.
The student loan debt crisis is the second most popular source of debt in the United States, which is currently over $1.5 trillion.
“The Rice Investment will give more students from middle-income families an extraordinary opportunity at an extraordinary university,” said university board chairman Bobby Tudor.
The university said it would also be undertaking a $150 million fundraising campaign to support the program.
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