U.S. News

Stanford waives tuition if income under $100,000

STANFORD, California (Reuters) - Amid calls by some U.S. lawmakers for wealthy universities to lower tuition costs, officials at Stanford University said on Wednesday they would no longer charge tuition to students from families earning less than $100,000 a year.

For students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year, Stanford University will not charge for either tuition or room and board, officials at the prestigious university near San Francisco said.

Harvard University, Yale University and Stanford have the three largest endowments among U.S. universities. Some lawmakers want universities to use investment gains in endowments to make college more affordable.

Tuition costs at leading U.S. universities have soared in recent years to levels that can leave students and their families tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt at graduation.

In December, Harvard overhauled its financial aid system so that families earning up to $180,000 a year would pay only as much as 10 percent of their income on annual tuition and fees.

Yale announced last month it would spend roughly 37 percent more of its own money from its $22.5 billion endowment on financial aid for students and scientific research in 2008-2009.

Stanford has an endowment of about $17 billion, which it plans to tap to pay for its new financial aid program. The university also plans a $200 million fund-raising effort to bolster the program.

Stanford University projects its undergraduate tuition for its 2008-2009 year at $36,030, with room and board an additional $11,182.

Reporting by Clare Baldwin; writing by Jim Christie, editing by Todd Eastham