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USC announces free tuition for families making under $80,000 a year

The University of Southern California also said homeownership will no longer factor into its calculations to determine a student's financial need.
Image: USC campus
Students walk in the University Village area of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on March 12, 2019.Reed Saxon / AP file

The University of Southern California announced plans Thursday to offer free tuition to students whose family incomes are less than $80,000 a year.

USC President Carol L. Folt unveiled two new policies to make the university in Los Angeles more accessible to students, including the free tuition break, which will begin for freshman entering this fall. The school also plans to stop calculating homeownership when determining a student's financial need, calling it a "break for homeowners" in its press release.

"We are committed to increasing USC's population of innovators, leaders and creators regardless of their financial circumstances," Folt said. "Investing in the talent and diversity of our student body is essential to our educational mission.”

Annual tuition at USC is $57,256 before factoring in additional costs, such as student fees, housing and books, according to the university's website. The school estimates that it offered $611 million in financial aid in the 2017-18 academic year.

The average financial aid package for a first-year student was $52,795, according to the College Board website.

USC plans to increase financial aid by more than $30 million annually, according to Thursday's announcement. The administration estimates that the increase will help about one-third of students entering in the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.

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Trenton Stone, the school's undergraduate student president, said the plan would help diversify the student body by making USC accessible to people from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

"Financial barriers should not be a deal-breaker for students with the merit and motivation to attend a top-tier research university like USC," Stone said.