Texas A&M expands offer of free tuition

COLLEGE STATION, TX The university said Monday this year's freshmen from families with incomes of $60,000 or less would be eligible for free tuition, up from the limit of $40,000 in another program.

Eligible students must be Texas residents entering A&M as freshmen, and they can take part in the "Aggie Assurance" program for a maximum of four years. A grade-point average of at least 2.5 is required as well.

"Texas A&M University is expanding its commitment to low- and middle-income students through this new program," school President Elsa Murano said in a statement.

The estimated cost for full-time students paying in-state tuition at Texas A&M is $19,950, about $7,780 of which is tuition and fees. Students in the program also would be eligible for additional grants, loans or work study programs to cover fees, books, room and board.

Texas A&M estimates about 80 percent of its students receive some type of financial aid.

The new program is retroactive to the current year, making more than 1,500 students eligible among the university's record freshman class of 8,091. The school said it expects the program to cost $300,000 this year and $3 million annually when fully implemented.

Texas A&M's other program -- called "Regents' Scholarship" -- offers up to $20,000 to first-generation students from families making $40,000 or less, the same benchmark for programs at the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of North Texas. Officials at UT-Arlington said they are considering an increase.

To apply for the "Aggie Assurance" program, students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid by March 31. Students can apply online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

"It encourages Texans to pursue higher education at a flagship research institution and is designed to reassure students from low- and middle-income families in Texas that a college education is possible, especially at Texas A&M," Murano said.

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