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Free tuition and fees for UT students with family incomes of up to $80,000?
Students at the University of Texas get help on tuition and fees. Do they not have to pay even if their family income reaches $80,000? (Austin American-Statesman photo, Jay Janner). Students at the University of Texas get help on tuition and fees. Do they not have to pay even if their family income reaches $80,000? (Austin American-Statesman photo, Jay Janner).

Students at the University of Texas get help on tuition and fees. Do they not have to pay even if their family income reaches $80,000? (Austin American-Statesman photo, Jay Janner).

By W. Gardner Selby March 21, 2018

Incredulity greeted mention on Twitter this week that the University of Texas at Austin covers tuition and fees for students with family incomes of up to $80,000.

"Bull…" one reader reacted. "That’s a… lie," another wrote. "HAHAHHA HAHAHHA hahahaha," a third person said.

But a chart in a presentation to the UT System Board of Regents seems to suggest that UT-Austin students from households with incomes of $60,001 to $80,000 have their tuition and fees covered by grants, scholarships and tuition waivers. Students from households with smaller incomes draw even more UT-Austin support, the chart indicates. The board fielded the presentation before voting to raise tuition twice in the next couple years.

About that chart: UT officials subsequently told Austin American-Statesman reporter Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, who covers higher education, that the chart lacks clarifying detail--including that UT’s full coverage of tuition and fees takes into account only students who have applied for financial aid. Students who qualified for the aid received full tuition and fee coverage on average, with some getting less and some getting more, UT advised.

Joey Williams, a spokesman for UT-Austin, said: "They obviously didn’t put all of the qualifying small print into the presentation."

Williams added that the chart conveyed the impression of a tuition promise. In contrast, Williams said, "we don’t have a tuition promise that matches any income currently."

Read Haurwitz’s full accounting here.

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Our Sources

News story, "UT System report left out devilish details on tuition aid at campuses,Austin American-Statesman, March 21, 2018

Publication, agenda book, "SPECIAL CALLED TELEPHONE MEETING of THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SYSTEM BOARD OF REGENTS," University of Texas System, March 19, 2018

Chart, "AVERAGE NET TUITION AND FEES FOR FULL-TIME RESIDENT STUDENTS RECEIVING A GRANT, SCHOLARSHIP, OR TUITION WAIVER," UT System Office of Strategic Initiatives (from agenda book, UT System, March 19, 2018)

News story, "Regents raise tuition at UT by 2% in fall and again in ‘19," American-Statesman, posted online March 19, 2018

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Free tuition and fees for UT students with family incomes of up to $80,000?