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Affordable & Accessible – Helping Students Succeed

Affordable AAU Universities

How AAU universities are leading the way in providing high quality education at an affordable price to Americans of all backgrounds.

Half of our students graduate debt free. Yes, really. Five in 10 graduating seniors from AAU universities leave without any debt. This is no coincidence. As America’s leading research universities, AAU members provide high-quality education and make it affordable for students of all backgrounds. Students at AAU universities receive 46 percent more financial aid from their universities than from the federal government. These much-needed grants and scholarships go to those who may otherwise be unable to pay for and complete college.

Bucky’s Tuition Promise at the University of Wisconsin-Madison guarantees free tuition to any admitted resident student whose family earns less than $56,000 – roughly the median Wisconsin family income. In announcing the initiative, UW-Madison Chancellor Blank said, “Our goal is to ensure that anyone who is admitted can afford to be a Badger.” The tuition guarantee covered 796 students this past fall at no additional cost to taxpayers.

At Columbia University, 50 percent of all students receive need-based financial aid, including only grants and scholarships – no loans – totaling more than $168 million annually. The average award for those in need is $53,830 and the university does not expect a parent contribution from families where parents earn less than $60,000 annually (with typical assets). This means that students from all walks of life – regardless of financial circumstance – are afforded the opportunity to succeed at one of our nation’s premier research universities. And they do succeed. In fact, Columbia University boasts a 95 percent graduation rate compared to the national average of 61 percent.

Nearly 1800 miles away, the University of Colorado Boulder is working to help students and their families afford higher education through a variety of programs. The Be Boulder Pact program keeps tuition fixed for four years and was recently enhanced by the elimination of all course and program fees in fall 2018 – saving students an estimated $8.4 million per year. CU Boulder, despite being 48th among public research universities for state funding, has increased institutional aid to its students to a total of $40.1 million annually, including a scholarship for first generation students. Further, under the CU Promise program, resident students from low-income families receive grants to help pay for the student share of tuition and an estimated work-study award to help pay for other educational expenses. The CU Promise program benefited 1,568 students this past fall – up from 414 students in 2014.

These initiatives are just a small snapshot of the many student access and affordability programs across our universities. Every AAU university offers programs like these designed to ensure that no qualified student is turned away. These programs have helped thousands of students graduate with little to no debt. For those with debt, they enter the workforce well-equipped to pay back their obligations with an average default rate of 2.8 percent versus the national average of 7.4 percent.

As America’s leading research universities, we take tremendous pride in shaping our nation’s future leaders in business, medicine, technology, law, the arts, and other fields. We recognize that many of those future innovators may not be able to pursue their career aspirations without support from the very university in which they have entrusted their education and training. AAU universities will continue to be leaders in providing high-quality education at the least possible cost. It is our promise to America.

See similar stories here: AAU Affordability and Student Aid