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University of Nebraska to waive tuition for students whose families make $60,000 or less

Amy Hadachek
for The Fence Post

The University of Nebraska has announced a program to help students, who qualify, to attend the university tuition-free beginning this fall semester.

UNL President Ted Carter launched the program, called the Nebraska Promise, on April 17, noting it enables students whose families make $60,000 in taxable income or less, which is the median income level in Nebraska, to attend the University of Nebraska tuition-free.

The Nebraska Promise, which will be effective this fall 2020, guarantees full-time resident undergraduates whose families have an adjusted gross income of $60,000 or less or who qualify for the federal Pell Grant, can attend any NU campus and pay no tuition.

The requirements are that a student must be a Nebraska resident, a full-time undergraduate student and maintain a 2.5 GPA in order to qualify.

This tuition-free program is good for all four years of a program. It does not include room and board.

University officials say while this program was in the planning before COVID-19, it was launched now to help Nebraskans in this pandemic and in difficult economic times.

“This was an idea that came out of President Carter’s strategic planning process, which began before the COVID-19 outbreak. The strategic planning process has largely been put on pause so that we can focus our attention on the current crisis, but President Carter decided to roll out this program now to provide some hope and relief to Nebraskans who may be struggling,” said Melissa Lee, director of communications for the University of Nebraska.

This promise applies to students across the entire University of Nebraska system, not just UNL, which means that in addition to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, it also includes the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which has undergraduate nursing programs.

The Nebraska Promise will apply to returning, transfer and new students, both on-campus and online, and does not require any additional application other than a document called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The university has also extended this year’s priority FAFSA deadline to June 1 to further assist students and families.

While the Pell Grant is a federally funded program, Lee said the Nebraska Promise is not a federally funded program. It is auniversity program.

“The university’s previous need-based financial aid program, Collegebound Nebraska, waived tuition for Pell-eligible Nebraska students. The Nebraska Promise is an expansion of that program, tying the free tuition eligibility to income, versus Pell eligibility. We cover the gap between Pell funding and whatever tuition costs remain,” Lee said.

That’s a $6,000 to $7,000 savings per student who qualifies, for each year of the program.

“Tuition rates vary by campus,” Lee said. “For a Nebraska undergraduate taking a typical full course load (30 credit hours per year), our current tuition costs are:

• A year of tuition at UNL is $7,560.

• A year of tuition at UNO is $6,870.

• A year of tuition at UNK is $6,090.”

Students and families are urged to contact a University of Nebraska campus for assistance with admissions and financial aid.

“We understand that in these uncertain times, many Nebraskans are rethinking every dollar. We want students and families to know that their university is here for them, that we want them as part of our family, and that we’re doing everything we can to keep the promise of a college education within reach, no matter what their circumstance,” said president Carter, in a statement. Carter began as the university’s eighth president in January 2020.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts also relayed in a statement that, “The Nebraska Promise will help more of our young people afford college, and graduate on time and get a great-paying job here in our state. I’m pleased to see the university taking this important step to keep costs down for Nebraskans, especially at a time when all of us are tightening our belts.”

“We hope the Nebraska Promise will bring students to the University of Nebraska who may think college is out of their reach,” Lee added.

Lee said about 75 percent of undergraduates at the University of Nebraska receive financial aid.

There are about 51,000 students in the entire University of Nebraska education system currently.

To apply and for more information, go to nebraska.edu/nebraska-promise. ❖

— Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at rotatingstorm2004@yahoo.com.


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