Free USC tuition to students with $80K or less family income

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The University of Southern California will phase in free tuition for undergraduate students from families with an annual income of $80,000 or less, USC President Carol L. Folt announced Thursday.

As part of the initiative, ownership of a home will not be counted in determining a student’s financial need to attend the Los Angeles private college with 20,500 undergraduates, where tuition and living expenses are above $77,000 annually.

“We’re opening the door wider to make a USC education possible for talented students from all walks of life,” Folt said in a statement.

The changes will be phased in beginning with first-year students entering USC in the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021, USC said.

The university also said it will increase undergraduate financial aid by more than $30 million annually. When fully implemented, the expansion will allow USC to provide stronger financial assistance to more than 4,000 students every year.

An undergraduate’s estimated full-time, two-semester tuition for 2019-2020 is $57,256, according to USC’s cost and financial aid website.

Adding fees, housing, meals, books, supplies, transportation and miscellaneous costs boosts the total to $77, 459. For students living with parents or relatives the total estimate is $64,715.

In comparison, the estimated annual average cost for a California resident undergraduate living on campus at the nine public University of California colleges is $36,100. The cost for a student living off campus averages $33,200.

According to USC, two-thirds of its undergraduates receive financial aid and more than 21% of undergraduates are from low-income families.

In all, USC’s undergraduate students each year receive more than $640 million in awards from all sources for tuition and expenses. More than half of the total is from USC grants and scholarships.

“With this new initiative, we will be even better positioned to recruit students from all backgrounds and strengthen the USC experience for everyone,” said USC Provost Charles F. Zukoski.

Folt, the former chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, became USC’s president last year as the university dealt with a series of major scandals, including the college admissions bribery case.

That scandal followed allegations that the school ignored complaints of widespread sexual misconduct by a longtime campus gynecologist and an investigation into a medical school dean accused of smoking methamphetamine with a woman who overdosed.