Photo by 'sk,' Creative Commons license 2.0

As a boost to middle- and lower-income families with college-aged kids, and to a lesser degree as a gift to Wonkette readers desperate for a break from the awful news this week, the University of Texas at Austin will begin offering free tuition and fees to all students with family incomes under $65,000 a year. This isn't a mere "proposal," folks, it's a done deal.

The funding comes from a new $160 million endowment that the the University of Texas System's Board of Regents voted to establish from the state's Permanent University Fund (which includes money from oil and gas royalties earned from state-owned land), and should start benefiting students as soon as the fall 2020 semester, the college announced in a statement.

The new endowment expands college opportunity to a much larger slice of Texas families; an existing program at UT-Austin had provided full tuition and fees for students whose families made $30,000 a year. The Census Bureau lists median family income in Texas at a bit over $59,200 in 2017.

University officials estimate the new funds will allow about a quarter of undergrads from Texas, about 8,600 students annually, to get a full ride, and another 5,700 to get tuition assistance. The new program will not, however, cover students' dorms or living expenses, which in 2017-18 averaged about $17,000 a year.

The Texas Tribune notes that the new funding to help undergrads comes in the wake of a wee bit of an embarrassment for the UT system:

The UT System has one of the richest educational endowments in the country, second in size only to Harvard University last year, according to Bloomberg data. (The system has far more students across its 14 institutions than those who attend Harvard.)

But a Texas Tribune investigation from 2017 found that just a fraction of the endowment distribution was being used for financial aid at UT-Austin — about $3 million for undergraduates — and that money dedicated to system administration and initiatives, like an in-house educational technology startup, had increased. The chancellor and many of the regents have changed since then, and [UT governing board chair Kevin] Eltife has been critical of past spending priorities.

New people -- we like these new people!

We suppose we should brace for idiots claiming UT-Austin's new plan is some kind of "slap in the face" to previous students who struggled to afford college. Or perhaps some wag will insist that since the new endowment is partially funded by oil money, then no one who supports the Green New Deal is allowed to be happy about this development. But fuck 'em. This is a good thing, and how about we see more state university systems follow suit? Gavin Newsom, you gonna let TEXAS have education bragging rights? THAT TEXAS? Get to work!

[Texas Tribune / ABC News / Photo by 'sk,' Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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