In what the Los Angeles Times calls a "high-octane" effort to open its doors to more middle- and low-income students, the University of South California announced a major initiative Thursday that will get rid of tuition for families earning $80,000 a year or less, starting with new students entering USC this fall and in the spring of 2021. The initiative will also take homeownership out of the equation when figuring out a student's financial aid needs. USC President Carol Folt says including that component "felt wrong," considering the high price of housing in California—meaning the "home might be the piece inhibiting [parents'] ability to put their kids through school." Transfer students don't qualify for the new policies.
The cost to attend the private university this school year runs close to $80,000, with tuition alone costing more than $57,000; per NBC News. Fox News notes that the public UCLA is just a few miles away, of "a similar caliber," and available at a fraction of the cost—tuition is just north of $13,000, with annual costs running about $35,000. Other big-name private schools like Harvard and Stanford offer a higher earning cap (up to $150,000 per year) for free-tuition eligibility, but the Times notes they have much larger endowments: $40.9 billion and $27.7 billion, respectively, while USC has just $5.7 billion. "We are committed to increasing USC's population of innovators, leaders, and creators regardless of their financial circumstances," Folt said in a statement. (Read more USC stories.)