College is more expensive than ever before. Over the past 20 years, the cost of tuition has increased by 157 percent for private universities, 194 percent for out-of-state public universities and a whopping 237 percent for in-state public universities.
But across the country, affordable higher education initiatives have begun to gain popularity. San Francisco, New York and Tennessee have all spearheaded free college initiatives and it seems as if this trend may be catching on.
Free college may sound like a myth, but some schools are starting to make it a reality. Community colleges and four-year public institutions are offering low-income students tuition-free programs. Often referred to as "promise programs," these initiatives cover tuition and fees for students who are categorized as low-income.
Check out these four schools that are giving low-income students a free ride:
Arizona State University (ASU) has two tuition-free programs. The first is the ASU College Attainment Grant Program, which provides full tuition to Arizona residents who qualify to receive Pell Grants from the government.
The second program, the Obama Scholars Program, is geared toward "highly motivated Arizona residents who demonstrate leadership qualities." In order to be eligible for this program, students must demonstrate that their families earn $42,400 or less annually.
Thanks to the 50th Anniversary PROMISE Scholarship, Philadelphia High School graduates are able to attend the Community College of Philadelphia completely free of charge if they are Pell Grant eligible.
In order to maintain this scholarship, recipients must attend school full time and earn a 2.5 cumulative grade point average at the end of each academic year.
In 2017, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) announced that it would charge New Hampshire residents receiving Pell Grants absolutely nothing in tuition. UNH estimates that 285 first-year students will benefit from this new program in 2017.
"UNH's Granite Guarantee allows us to remove more of the financial barriers to higher education that many New Hampshire families face," said UNH President Mark Huddleston. "This new program demonstrates our strong commitment to ensuring a UNH education is affordable and accessible to New Hampshire's best and brightest."
Through the Carolina Covenant initiative, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) guarantees that students whose families fall at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line can attend UNC without taking out any loans. This means that students will receive grants and work-study offers that cover tuition, as well as room and board.
Emerson Evans, who graduated from UNC in 2008, says, "If it wasn't for the Covenant, I wouldn't be where I am today."
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