Fort Lewis College announced Friday it will ensure students from working and middle-class families can attend the school tuition-free starting next fall.
The FLC Tuition Promise, a new grant program, will serve first-year and enrolled students from families that earn $60,000 or less, said Michele Peterson, associate vice principal of finance and administration.
The grant program is intended to fill in any financial gaps left after a student receives federal Pell Grants, state financial aid and other scholarships, school officials said Friday during a Board of Trustees meeting.
“The biggest concern that students have today is over the cost of education, and I think it’s not just here, it’s a national concern,” said Provost Cheryl Nixon.
The new assistance program is meant to address concerns about cost and fear of debt, and help potential students consider more than the price of the school when making a decision about higher education, she said.
“We want to make sure we have that wide-open door to students,” she said.
The program is also expected to help more first-generation students and students from diverse backgrounds attend FLC, she said.
Students with the most financial need can qualify for federal Pell Grants that provide up to $6,195 in annual tuition assistance. But the maximum amount of Pell Grant assistance available does not cover FLC’s annual tuition of $7,056.
The tuition assistance also does not apply to FLC student fees, which are about $1,800 a year.
The school expects about 300 students, about 10% of its student body, will qualify for the additional tuition assistance, Peterson said. The school expects to spend about $50,000 a year on the new aid program from its general funds, she said.
Students will not have to apply for the grant program separately from other financial aid programs.