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TWU creates zero tuition program for low-income students

TWU creates zero tuition program for low-income students

TWU creates zero tuition program for low-income students
December 03
22:00 2022

Texas Woman’s University announced the creation of a  Zero Tuition Guarantee program that would cut tuition costs for students who meet certain requirements.

The program is for students who qualify for the Pell Grant, which is financial aid provided by the federal government to low-income students. To qualify for TWU’s program, students must also be in their first year of attendance at the university, either as freshmen or transfer students, live in Texas and maintain at least a 2.0 GPA. The university anticipates new students will be able to attend because of the program, said Javier Flores, TWU’s vice president for enrollment management.

“We are estimating about 150 to 175 new students [who] historically did not [attend college or university to participate],” Flores said. “In other words, we looked at how many students we have that are already receiving a Pell Grant and that perhaps were already covering the tuition and fees for those students. Then, we just projected out if we market this and we inform students that they can receive this zero-tuition guarantee, then how many more students do we think?”

In addition to qualifying for Pell Grants, students must also have filled out FAFSA forms by March 1 to be considered for the program. The goal of the program is to allow students to graduate from the university within a traditional four-year timeframe with as little debt as possible.

Flores said it is possible that the requirements to qualify for zero tuition may change in the future, pending action by the federal government.

“The US Department of Education is changing the way they award Pell Grants in the fall of 2024,” Flores said. “They’re going to move it into a student index, and we don’t know the specifics. We’re waiting to find out when the Department of Education will have webinars but knowing that the FAFSA doesn’t open until October 2023 for fall 2024, I think it will probably be late spring or this summer.”

TWU’s goal to reduce debt for prospective students is attractive to some students. Haden Williams, a freshman education major at TWU, voiced her support for the program and its goals.

“Coming in, I had to scramble to apply for scholarships even with a Pell Grant,” Williams said. “Because I just didn’t have the money, so I think that would be great for people like me.”

Williams also said she believes affordability is a key reason people choose not to go to college today. Affordability is a key part of the university’s goal for students through the new tuition program, Flores said.

Sam Hassell, a junior English major at TWU, also agreed that the program could be beneficial to low-income students but expressed hesitations about the current requirements.

“Being fully paid for, I think there’s a lot of people who need that,” Hassell said. “But I think it’s a matter of making sure that they properly evaluate using standards that are reasonable.”

Hassell specifically said he has concerns with the GPA requirement for members of the program.

“I just think about most of the programs, at least that I’ve been in, have just a 2.5 [GPA] requirement just to get in,” Hassell said. “So, a 2.0 might work if you’re going for an associate at a community college, like I went to, but a 2.0 isn’t going to get you much further than that.”

The idea for a zero-tuition program came in the spring of this year and was inspired by other universities with similar programs, Flores said.

“I think the most important aspect is students, especially many of our Pell [Grant] qualified students are first-generation students,” Flores said. “So, it’s our way at TWU to pass that torch of accessibility, hope and being able to transform a student’s future by getting them to be able to graduate.”

Image Courtesy of Texas Woman’s University

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John Eberhart

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