- North Carolina residents from middle-income families attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may be eligible for scholarships from a new $20 million fund, according to The News and Observer.
- The Blue Sky Scholars program is aimed at students with annual family incomes averaging $75,000. It will provide eligible students with $7,500 annually as well as $2,500 per year in work-study support and a one-time $2,500 grant for study abroad, internships and other costs. Officials expect awardees to graduate with only about $10,000 in debt, compared to $22,000 in debt for last year's UNC-Chapel Hill graduates. Students nationwide typically graduate with about $37,000 in debt.
- The aid will be funded by a $5 million gift from former UNC President Erskine Bowles and a fundraising campaign to cover the remaining $15 million.
While many universities are reducing costs to students by cutting tuition or offering more financial aid, some are specifically attempting to assist middle-income students. Such aid is designed to help students who are "too poor for college, too rich for financial aid," one Forbes contributor wrote. An education research analyst from a conservative think tank, however, recently explained in Forbes that middle-income students increasingly are getting Pell Grant funds, which was not the intent of the program. He notes that only 5% of students from families earning more than $50,000 received them in 1996, but now 27% do.
Rice University recently announced plans to offer students with family incomes from $65,000 to $130,000 full-tuition scholarships while halving the tuition of students with incomes from $130,000 to $200,000. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced late this summer its plans to provide eligible students with annual family income up to $61,000 with free tuition for eight semesters through a combination of institutional, federal and state aid.
Smaller institutions also are dramatically cutting tuition, including University of Cumberlands, in Kentucky, which cut tuition 57% to about $10,000 per year. St. John's College, with campuses in Maryland and New Mexico, is trimming tuition by $17,000, and Elizabethtown College, in Pennsylvania, will cut its posted tuition by one-third.
The National Association of College and University Business Officers in April reported that the average discount rate for first-time, full-time students during the last academic year was about 50%.