MIT Becomes Newest Free College Pioneer

MIT SealJoining the ranks of Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Brown Universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has become the latest college to revise its financial aid package policies to offer free college to low income families. And though MIT's tuition is rising by 4% next year to $36,390, its financial aid budget, which will have increased by $74 million, will help to offset this. In fact, net tuition is expected to drop approximately 15%.

MIT, which does not offer any merit-based financial aid, plans to make three big changes to its need-based plans for the 2008-2009 academic year:

  • Families earning less than $75,000 a year will have all tuition covered through scholarships, federal and state grants, and outside scholarship funds. This means 0 student loan obligation. Almost 30% of MIT's students fall into this Free College category.
  • Families earning less than $100,000 will no longer have their home equity used to determine their financial need On average, this will reduce the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) by $1,600 for students in this category. Families who rent and do not have home equity will also see a comparable reduction.
  • All students will have work study requirements reduced. All financial aid recipients currently on a work study program will have their minimum expectations lowered by 10%.

Says MIT Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Daniel Hastings, "we will continue our long-standing financial commitment to students and their families in the years ahead. That we can welcome to our campus such extraordinary students, regardless of their economic background, is due to our historic dedication to need-based financial aid."

I welcome the latest entrant into the Free College empire. With yet another elite university riding this wave, I can only hope the trend will continue to spread and receive even wider participation.

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Definitely good to see that the trend still has momentum, but I wonder how many schools can really afford this too. There are still structural / economic issues in 98%+ of higher education institutions so most students are still facing rising tuition costs. Admissions competition will probably be going higher than ever, but thats a good long-term trend for the level of education in the country.


- John, 03/10/08 at 5:00 am

Hi John,

Excellent point. Right now, the only universities offering Free College are those that have the massive endowments that allow them to. However, I am hopeful that if the trend starts to catch on, we may see an increase in alumni donations to encourage a competitive Free College program at their alma mater. I don't believe that the trend will be quick, but I do believe that it will be widespread once it gains momentum.

- Brian Cavner, 03/11/08 at 10:19 am

It's great that more and more colleges and universities are offering this kind of financial assistance. Because if they continue to accept just paying students who are willing to pony up their expensive tuition fees, they might miss out on some "diamonds in the rough" students from lower-income families that just needs to get the right break.

- Patrick, 06/09/08 at 2:29 am

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