In a Tuesday vote by the University of Texas, it was announced that the university will provide free tuition to students of low-socioeconomic status. Today, Texas Tech reiterated its commitment to students of low-socioeconomic status, having provided a similar program since 2007.
In an article released by the Austin American-Statesman yesterday, the University of Texas announced that in-state students from families with a household income of under $65,000 will receive free tuition starting in fall of 2020. UT follows schools in Texas like Tech, which has provided assistance and funding like this since 2007.
“So the University of Texas came out in the Statesman yesterday with an embellishment of their program, in terms of what they are doing for higher education for students from low-socioeconomic standing,” Ethan Logan, associate vice-president for enrollment management for Texas Tech University said. “Texas Tech has been doing a similar program since 2007. Our program is called Red Raider Guarantee, and it’s a program where we look at students whose adjusted gross income of their family is $40,000 or less.”
In 2007, the Tech Board of Regents voted to allow free tuition to students from low-socioeconomic families attending Tech in a program known as Red Raider Guarantee. Students looking to attend Tech that come from families with a household income of $40,000 or less, which covers roughly 1,500 students in 2019, or 5% of Tech’s undergraduate population, according to Texas Tech.
“What we do for that individual student, their tuition and fees are met by the institution. Now that’s a combination of all the things they do qualify for, that most students from low-socioeconomic status would qualify for,” Logan said. “What Texas Tech does is we do a last dollar commitment to (the students) for tuition and fees.”
Prior to UT’s announcement that they would raise their threshold to $65,000, UT previously offered a similar program to students from families with a gross income of $30,000. Having over doubled their previous threshold, Tech will now face the discussion of whether it should raise its threshold as well.
“In terms of what we talk about from a national conversation about higher education, affordability and cost, I think (raising the $40,000 threshold) is something we should think about in the future, how we can provide more. The idea of what we’ve done with the last dollar scholarship in terms of Red Raider Guarantee, is to make sure we can do something that’s consistent and that we can meet all of the needs of the students and the population that we serve,” Logan said.
With Tech having set their original threshold at $40,000 in 2007, inflation has raised the average median income of low-socioeconomic families, which is why the discussion to re-raise Tech’s threshold has come into question.
“As that evolves, I think we need to revisit (the $40,000 threshold) in the future, just for inflation reasons, but I also think there is an opportunity to delve deeper into the students of the greatest financial need, and to really provide some assistance,” Logan said.
Regardless of UT recently jumping the threshold to higher than that offered to Tech students, Logan doesn’t foresee the change vastly affecting either’s school application or admission numbers.
“I would say there could be some impact, but I don’t think it will be resounding. The reason for that is Texas limits the number of people who they enroll in a given year, they have a capacity,” Logan said. “So they cap their enrollment, so it may invoke more applications to the institution, but ultimately right now they are still controlling the enrollment numbers to the institution.”
With the discussion nationally focused on the rising costs of college tuition and the difficulty of obtaining a college education in today’s world, especially for students from financially struggling families, Logan views increases in opportunity to the average low-socioeconomic student as a benefit to all.
“A great criticism of higher education presently, especially in the national culture, is that the cost of education, is it worthwhile or is the debt that a student assumes worth the investment? I would still argue that it is,” Logan said. “The idea of being able to try and mitigate that, either on the lowest end of our students, in terms of their potential ability to pay, or those students who would have to take out the most loans to meet their educational costs, is I think a public service, and a part of what we need to do as public agents.”