Reaffirming its commitment to accessibility, the University of Nebraska is launching a program that guarantees a tuition-free education for all Nebraska students with family incomes of $60,000 or less.
Announced April 17 by NU-system President Ted Carter, the Nebraska Promise program will take effect in fall 2020. It guarantees that all full-time resident undergraduates whose families have an adjusted gross income of $60,000 or less or qualify for the federal Pell Grant can attend any University of Nebraska campus and pay no tuition.
Nebraska Promise will apply to returning, transfer and new students, both on-campus and online, and requires no separate application beyond the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Access and affordability are key priorities for the university-wide strategic planning team charged with helping Carter chart NU’s path forward.
“Accessibility for the people of Nebraska has been core to the mission of our University for more than 150 years,” Carter said. “Today we’re doubling down on that promise.
“We understand that in these uncertain times, many Nebraskans are rethinking every dollar. We want students and families to know that their University is here for them, that we want them as part of our family, and that we’re doing everything we can to keep the promise of a college education within reach, no matter what their circumstance.”
Carter praised the university’s campus financial aid directors for their leadership and commitment to student access. With their help, Carter and the chancellors are continuing to explore opportunities to expand affordability.
“Even as we manage the challenge before us, the role of the University of Nebraska in providing a world-class education to students and meeting the economic needs of our state is as important now as ever,” Carter said. “We’re here to take care of Nebraskans. The Nebraska Promise is one more way for us to do that.”
The university’s existing need-based financial aid program, Collegebound Nebraska, guarantees tuition-free education for qualifying Pell-eligible Nebraska students. Nearly 3,000 students currently attend NU tuition-free under Collegebound Nebraska.
The expanded Nebraska Promise would cover approximately 1,000 additional current and future NU students. University leaders hope the program will attract Nebraskans who may not have thought they could afford a university education.
“The Nebraska Promise will create opportunities for more students than ever,” said Board of Regents Chairman Jim Pillen of Columbus. “That’s extra special in light of today’s circumstances. I’m so proud of our university for giving hope to Nebraskans.”
Nebraska policymakers expressed support for the program. Carter thanked elected leaders for their recognition of the importance of affordable, excellent higher education for the state.
“The Nebraska Promise is a remarkable commitment to the people of our state,” said Sen. John Stinner of Gering, chairman of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. “At a time when many families in my district and across Nebraska are struggling, the university is making a promise that the doors of higher education will remain open to every young person who is qualified to attend. Even in challenging times, we have to think about the long term, and I believe the Nebraska Promise is a pivotal decision that will help our state thrive in the future.”
Senators Tony Vargas and Anna Wishart, as well as Governor Pete Ricketts also support the program.
“The Nebraska Promise will help more of our young people afford college, graduate on time and get a great-paying job here in our state,” Ricketts said. “I’m pleased to see the University taking this important step to keep costs down for Nebraskans, especially at a time when all of us are tightening our belts.”
The Nebraska Promise aligns with the mission of each NU campus and will send a strong message to current and potential students, according to the chancellors.
“I love the clarity of this promise for access to Nebraska’s families and future leaders, Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “If your family income is $60,000 or less, you can excel at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln tuition-free. This takes away the guessing game for many families and provides a clear path for a college degree at our Big Ten university.”
To be eligible for full tuition coverage under the Nebraska Promise, students must take at least 12 credit hours per semester and maintain a 2.5 grade point average. The Nebraska Promise will cover up to 30 credit hours per academic year. The program does not cover costs beyond tuition like fees, books, or room and board.
The university has extended this year’s priority FAFSA deadline to June 1 to provide additional flexibility for students and families.
Detailed information on the Nebraska Promise program is available in both English and Spanish at www.nebraska.edu/nebraska-promise.