President Carter announces plan to offer tuition-free education to eligible students


Grant Rohan

NU President Ted Carter announced plans to offer free tuition to eligible Nebraska students. Photo courtesy of UNO Communications.

University of Nebraska President Ted Carter unveiled a plan Friday, Apr. 17 that will guarantee a tuition-free NU education to students from low-income families.

Carter’s plan, dubbed The Nebraska Promise, will take effect in fall 2020. It will allow full-time undergraduates to attend any NU campus tuition-free if their family has an annual income of $60,000 or less. Those who qualify for the federal Pell Grant are also eligible.

Students must be Nebraska residents, take at least 12 credit hours per semester and maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher to qualify for full tuition coverage. The plan covers up to 30 credit hours per academic year and does not cover costs beyond tuition including fees, books or room and board.

The plan will apply to new, returning and transfer students, as well as students both on-campus and online. There is no application required outside of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The university has also extended the FAFSA deadline to June 1 to allow flexibility for students and their families.

Carter stressed the importance of access and affordability for students in Friday’s meeting with the Board of Regents.

“We understand that in these uncertain times, many Nebraskans are rethinking every dollar,” Carter said. “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.”

Collegebound Nebraska, the university’s current need-based financial aid program, offers free tuition for 3,000 Pell-eligible students. The Promise would cover an additional 1,000 current and future NU students.

State policymakers showed support for the plan, including Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas.

“Increasing equity and access to higher education for young Nebraskans is a personal passion of mine,” Vargas said. “Challenging economic times only add to the urgency of making sure that every student, regardless of socioeconomic status, has the opportunity to succeed. The Nebraska Promise is a simple and powerful message: If you are in need, the university is here for you. Thank you to our university for going another step further to ensure access for every talented young Nebraskan.”

Carter praised the university’s campus financial aid directors for their commitment to student success, since their help is vital to Carter and the chancellors to expand affordability.

“Access is at the heart of the missions of both UNO and UNMC,” said UNO and UNMC Chancellor Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold.

“Cost should not be a limiting factor for any Nebraska student who wants to change their life with a degree from one of our campuses,” Gold said. “The Nebraska Promise further solidifies that commitment. I’m so pleased that we are doing everything in our power to welcome students to our campuses and help them complete their academic journeys.”