Stanford Offers 100% Free Ride To A New Group Of Students

Since 1978, the cost of a college education has increased 1,225%. As of last fall, there were 50 schools charging more than $60,000 for a single year of undergrad, with Stanford University among them. In fact, one year of school without any financial aid at Stanford boasts a price tag of around $65,000 — that's a quarter of a million dollars for your undergraduate degree. But, beginning with the class of 2019, students whose parents make under $125,000 will get a free ride as part of an expansion of the university’s financial aid program.

The acceptance rate at the prestigious college is exceptionally low: Only 5% of applicants get in. “Our highest priority is that Stanford remain affordable and accessible to the most talented students, regardless of their financial circumstances,” said school provost John Etchemendy. Stanford has offered a need-based full ride to students in the past; the previous benchmark was a family income of $100,000 or less. Students will need to contribute $5,000 per year themselves, though work-study, in order to be eligible for the the aid.

Stanford isn’t the only university to officer this type of deal to students. Other elite schools, such as Harvard and MIT, have income thresholds that can qualify accepted students for free-ride financial aid packages. Plus, eight of the Ivys (and a number of other schools) have opted into a no-loan system that gives qualifying students grants instead of saddling them with hefty post-grad debt.

Of course, you still need the grades to get in to an elite institution — and enough financial support to cover books and the rest of life while you're there. Plus, elite colleges continue to have a pretty shoddy record of recruiting kids from diverse economic and racial backgrounds — with or without free tuition. But, with student loan debt reaching record highs, this is still a small step in the right direction.
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