by David Safier
Here is some very good news on the higher education front. Stanford University will not charge tuition to a student whose family earns less than $100,000 a year. Wait, it gets better. The college will waive the cost of room and board as well if the family earns less than $60,000. (The most complete article I found is on the San Francisco Chronicle website.)
I want to take a moment to savor this. A student who is accepted under Stanford’s “need-blind” admission policy but can’t afford the $38,400 tuition, not to mention room and board, doesn’t have to go with a second choice or graduate from Stanford with a six figure loan. If you can figure out how to get to the campus and take care of your incidental expenses (you may still have to cover books and materials, I don’t know), you can get a free education at one of the greatest universities in the world.
Sometimes I’m very proud of this country. (Ohmygod, did I have a Michelle Obama moment there? Let me rephrase that. At moments like this, I swell with pride about the possibilities this country offers when we’re at our best. I swear, if I see a news clip of a group of freshman from low income families entering the Stanford campus next September, I’ll probably burst into tears.)
The reason Stanford can afford to do this is that its endowment grew 22% last year. It’s now at $17.1 billion. That endowment is tax exempt, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made the comment that these schools “aren’t using enough of their endowments to help students afford college.” That may have made Stanford a little nervous, I don’t know.
Did I mention Grassley is a Republican? Yes, I did. I just wanted to mention it again. Sometimes I’m very, very proud of this country. (Ohmygod, I did it again!)
Here’s what I want to hear a Tucson high school graduate say this June: “I was planning to go to Pima Community College next year, but I couldn’t afford the tuition, so I’ll be going to Stanford instead.”