During the Board of Regents meeting Friday, University of Nebraska President Ted Carter announced “Nebraska Promise,” which covers the tuition of residential students from low-income families.
Students whose families have an annual income of $60,000 or less or qualify for the federal Pell Grant, can attend the University of Nebraska tuition-free, according to the NU website.
Students must also be Nebraska residents, complete at least 12 credit hours each semester and maintain a 2.5 GPA. They also need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid before June 1 in order to potentially receive the financial aid. “Nebraska Promise” will cover up to 30 credit hours per academic year but will not cover costs beyond tuition.
“We understand that in these uncertain times, many Nebraskans are rethinking every dollar,” Carter said. “We want students and families to know that their University is here for them, that we want them as part of our family, and that we’re doing everything we can to keep the promise of a college education within reach, no matter what their circumstance.”
Though “Nebraska Promise” was the highlight of the meeting, the regents approved an external finances policy for the NU system and amendments related to undergraduate Regents Scholarships, eliminated the classical languages major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and heard from two members of the public about NU financing priorities.
The regents voted to cap undergraduate Regents Scholarships’ credit hours at the number of credit hours required by a student’s degree program, which is usually 120 hours. The addendum lowered the maximum awardable amount from 135 hours, according to the meeting agenda, and will allow more students to have access to the scholarship.
Additionally, full-time student recipients of the Regents Scholarship are able to renew their scholarships if they complete nine or more hours per academic year on the “A” through “F” grading scale. Recipients are also allowed a one-time transfer of the scholarship between two NU campuses.
The regents also voted to eliminate the classical languages major in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at UNL, so it will no longer be offered for students to declare.
The major combined separate Greek and Latin majors. According to the agenda, student interest remained low for the past five years and there was not enough interest to continue to offer the major. However, there’s enough interest in the curriculum so the classes will continue as an option within the classics and religious studies major.
Students who had declared the major prior to the 2019-20 school year will be able to continue their degree program as planned or change degree programs to the classics and religious studies major, according to the addendum.
The regents approved a new policy for external financing, which would assist the NU system in cost-effectively prioritizing and utilizing external funds for capital plans and operating needs. The policy becomes effective immediately.
Two members of the NU community spoke to the regents about their concerns regarding how economic shortfalls may place an economic burden on Nebraskans. They urged the NU system to rethink its financing priorities as a result. Additionally, Ivy Harper, a UNL alum who spoke, asked that the regents establish an independent citizen oversight board and hold town halls in addition to regular meetings to connect with all Nebraskans.
Carter previously planned to unveil his five-year strategic plan for his time as president at the meeting, but due to the coronavirus, he said he has had to focus on handling the situation. The landscape of the NU system is changed due to COVID-19, so those involved in creating the plan will adjust the plan as a result, according to Carter.
The regents also thanked the student regents and Faculty Senate presidents, from each campus, which includes 2019-20 Association of Students of the University of Nebraska President Emily Johnson and associate professor in the Glenn Korff School of Music Kevin Hanrahan respectively.
The outgoing student regents sang their respective university’s fight song to commemorate their time on the board, and UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green sang along with Johnson.
The regents have asked the outgoing student regents to continue to assist the Board in the transfer of student regents. Roni Miller, who became the UNL 2020-21 ASUN president on April 1, and will represent UNL at the next scheduled meeting in June.
The next scheduled Board of Regents meeting will take place on June 26.