The University of Minnesota (UMN) will now offer tuition-free programs to benefit undergraduate students from lower income households.

UMN Board of Regents met on Friday to discuss the strategic plan for the program, which was developed by President Joan Gabel. The board unanimously agreed to create an educational plan that would cater to those who come from families earning $50,000 or less per year.

Through this initiative, the university will cover tuition costs after other financial aid packages have been applied. These costs can reach up to $13,318 per year at the Twin Cities campus for Minnesota residents. However, expenses such as housing, books, and transportation will not be included. 

UMN explains that roughly 2,800 students will be able to take advantage of this plan every year, and that the school is aiming to roll out the new program by next fall at all campuses.

Plans for the University 

Other goals that were discussed include the addition of more classes in online and hybrid formats, increasing UMN’s scholarship aid by 10 percent, reducing average student loans to $25,000 as compared to the current $27,000, and curtailing the graduation rate disparities of disadvantaged students.

UMN Twin Cities Senior James Farnsworth remarked that the new program will put education at the university within reach of many disadvantaged students. But he also pointed out that a “tuition freeze” is something that the college should prioritize.

As for Gabel, the Board of Regents was impressed by the five-year strategic plan she had constructed in the face of unprecedented challenges. Regent Ken Powell remarked that Gabel provided an “outstanding and highly detailed framework.”

Similar initiatives to assist underprivileged students have been undertaken at other institutions. Through the San Diego Black College Expo, students can connect with HBCUs and enjoy benefits such as “free or reduced college application fees, instant college admissions, and discounts on college tuition.”

The state of Virginia also passed a bill that requires five public colleges and universities to offer scholarships for descendants of past enslaved workers.