HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Free college tuition is being offered right here in the city of Houston. With tuition and student debt climbing, many states are offering programs that support students from middle class families who can't afford college.
While there is no such program in Texas, the University of Houston Downtown has a Gator Pledge. It covers tuition and fees for students whose families earn $50,000 or less.
"Getting the pledge really gave me the privelege in my last semester to sit back and think, 'What do I want to do after I graduate?' and I don't think many people get that luxury," says Jerri Jones, a UHD graduate and Gator Pledge recipient.
The freedom from working during college and crippling student debt allowed Jones to study for the LSAT and choose law school as the next step.
"We find that not only students but the parents need that [peace of mind] as well," says Daniel Villanueva, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and Registrar. "To allow their students to not be burdened by the debt they're accruing throughout their education, but to take full advantage of the educational opportunities."
The Gator Pledge is in place specifically for new students. High school seniors and those entering college in the fall of 2019 are directed to fill out an application to the University of Houston Downtown through the Applied Texas website. Then, they'll want to fill out their FAFSA and select UHD as their school of choice. After this, a short inquiry form will be completed, and the university can assist them with final documents and paperwork.
Any one and everyone is encouraged to apply, even if out of range of the Gator Pledge. If a family does not qualify, it is still very possible that they qualify for another type of aid, Villanueva says.
The deadline to apply for the Gator Pledge is May 1, 2019. If this deadline is not reached, there is still plenty of time before the beginning of the school year to achieve some kind of financial aid.