As part of our initiative called Curious Cornhuskers, an anonymous reader asked The Daily Nebraskan, “How are students going to be chosen for the ‘Nebraska Promise’ tuition program? Do you have to apply? Is it just part of the FAFSA?”
Students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to qualify for the Nebraska Promise program, according to the Nebraska Promise website. This year, due to COVID-19, students have until June 1 instead of April 1 to fill out the FAFSA.
University of Nebraska President Ted Carter announced the program Friday. Nebraska Promise provides a tuition-free option to Nebraska residents who are Pell Grant eligible or whose annual household income is $60,000 or less. Students must also take at least 12 credit hours each semester and maintain a 2.5 GPA to qualify.
“The Nebraska Promise will create opportunities for more students than ever,” Board of Regents chairman Jim Pillen said in a news release. “That’s extra special in light of today’s circumstances. I’m so proud of our university for giving hope to Nebraskans.”
The program begins in the Fall 2020 semester for returning, transfer and new NU students. It will cover up to 15 credit hours a semester, or a total of 30 credit hours per academic year, for both on-campus and online courses, according to the website.
If students take more than four years to complete their degree, they can continue to utilize the program as long as they meet eligibility requirements and demonstrate academic progress each year, according to the website.
The program does not cover costs beyond tuition, such as fees, books or room and board.
“I love the clarity of this promise for access to Nebraska’s families and future leaders,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green said in the news release. “This takes away the guessing game for many families and provides a clear path for a college degree at our Big Ten university.”
Carter said there seemed to be a gap in tuition assistance between students who qualify for the Pell Grant and middle-income families who do not. Coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, he said NU saw a need for additional financial support.
“We knew that people would be hurting, and we knew that people would be making some tough choices,” Carter said. “We had been thinking about something like this, and then this just put it into high gear at a time when there isn’t a whole lot of really good news and people are making decisions right now about whether to come back to college or go to college. We thought this was the right time to do this.”
By being proactive and thoughtful in handling the global pandemic, NU will be successful on the other side of it, according to Carter.
“This pandemic will end,” Carter said while announcing the Nebraska Promise. “And when it does, I want us to be the university that got it right.”
The Nebraska Promise builds on Collegebound Nebraska, a previous systemwide tuition assistance program replaced by the new program, and will support an additional 1,000 students, according to the website. This year, almost 3,000 students attended NU tuition-free with help from Collegebound Nebraska, according to the news release.
The NU Foundation is also raising funds to support the Nebraska Promise, according to its website.
“The Nebraska Promise will help more of our young people afford college, graduate on time and get a great-paying job here in our state,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said in the news release.
While NU and the rest of the world adapts to the crisis brought on by the coronavirus, Carter said he is proud to continue providing an education to Nebraskans.
“Even as we manage the challenge before us, the role of the University of Nebraska in providing a world-class education to students and meeting the economic needs of our state is as important now as ever,” Carter said in the news release. “We’re here to take care of Nebraskans. The Nebraska Promise is one more way for us to do that.”