University in California to Start Offering Free Tuition

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. waive / weɪv / (v) – to cancel something that is originally required

    She waived her right to claim her prize, so it was given to other contestants.

  2. distinguished / dɪˈstɪŋ gwɪʃt / (adj) – characterized by good quality or excellence

    Many students are studying hard to get into distinguished universities abroad.

  3. lodging / ˈlɒdʒ ɪŋ / (n) – a temporary place to live in

    Students who live far from the university get free lodging.

  4. pressing / ˈprɛs ɪŋ / (adj) – important and requiring immediate action

    Climate change is one of the most pressing global issues. Many private organizations are involved in addressing it to prevent further damages.

  5. philanthropy / fɪˈlæn θrə pi / (n) – the practice of donating money to help people and causes

    The hospital was built through a generous businessman’s philanthropy.


Read the text below.

The University of Southern California (USC), a private research university in Los Angeles, will start granting free tuition to students in need.

Starting fall this year, USC will waive full undergraduate tuition for students from families who earn $80,000 or less yearly. The initiative is in line with the university’s efforts to give more opportunities to students who are struggling financially.

With the increasing costs of obtaining college degrees, USC, along with the University of California system and other distinguished institutions, is hoping that the support will attract more students from diverse economic backgrounds.

The tuition at USC costs about $57,000 currently. On top of this, students attending the university will need an additional budget of around $20,000 for other expenses such as food, lodging, and course materials.

When evaluating students for their eligibility, the university will not consider whether their families own a house or not. As the USC president explained, expensive real estate rates can increase the total assets of low- and middle-income families, which may disqualify students who actually do need assistance.

With around 42 million people owing a total of $1.5 trillion in student loans, the affordability of college education is a pressing issue in the United States. According to studies, some qualified students have been discouraged from going to college to avoid incurring heavy student loans. These students end up having fewer opportunities to get high-paying jobs in the future.

USC said that it will increase its budget for financial aid programs by more than $30 million each year through philanthropy to support 4,000 students yearly.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that free tuition can give students more opportunities to get better jobs in the future? Why or why not?
• What do you think are the challenges of implementing this kind of initiative (e.g. sustaining budget, keeping educational quality)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Do you think that free tuition should be offered to all students, regardless of income? Discuss.
• What do you think are the best ways to sustain a free tuition program (e.g. donations)? Discuss.