This spring, 2,144 lucky high school seniors received an acceptance letter from Stanford University. Of those 2,144, a few received another huge gift, free tuition.
Yes, you read that right. Students accepted into Stanford University’s Class of 2019 who come from families with an annual income less than $125,000 have their total tuition, around $46,000 a year, forgiven. These families must have less than $300,000 in assets, including home equity, to be eligible (retirement savings is not taken into consideration). If the families make less than $65,000 a year, room and board is waived as well, another chunk of change averaging $14,100.
Even though Stanford waives tuition, each student is expected to contribute $5,000 a year through either a work study program, working through the summer, or savings.
Free tuition is not new at Stanford, which is ranked forth in the nation according US News and World Reports National University ranking, but this year, the university raised the income levels. This year, families can make $25,000 more than last year and still qualify for forgiveness.
In a press release, Provost John Etchemendy said, “Our highest priority is that Stanford remain affordable and accessible to the most talented students, regardless of their financial circumstances.”
And it seems Stanford students are benefiting, as nearly 77 percent of the school’s undergraduates graduate without any student loan debt, which can not be said for the majority of American college students.
Etchemedy’s statement rings true for many of those accepted to Stanford this year. Nearly 16 percent of the students in the Class of 2019 are the first person in their family to go to college.
But don’t think it’s easy and just anyone can go. With over 40,000 applicants a year, only 5 percent of those who apply are accepted, as the school only accepts the best of the best.
Stanford isn’t the only Ivy league school offering free tuition to middle class families. Harvard, for instance, offers full tuition waivers for students with family income less than $65,000. For those families between $65,000 and $150,000, there is a discount program where the family only has to pay between zero and 10 percent of their annual income. Yale and Princeton both offer similar programs.