The University of Southern California announced Thursday that students from families who make less than $80,000 a year would be able to attend the school tuition-free beginning in the 2020 fall semester.
USC President Carol L. Folt said the new policy opens 'the door wider to make a USC education possible for talented students from all walks of life."
"We are committed to increasing USC's population of innovators, leaders and creators regardless of their financial circumstances," Folt said in an announcement posted on the school's website. "Investing in the talent and diversity of our student body is essential to our educational mission."
According to The Los Angeles Times, USC's new policy mirrors that of elite universities like Stanford and Harvard, both of which offer free tuition to students of families making less than $150,000. However, the Times notes that USC's endowment is much smaller than Harvard or Stanford.
According to USC's admissions website, current tuition at the college is about $57,000 a year. Including housing, meals, books, transportation and other fees, the cost climbs to $77,000 a year.
The school also said that it would no longer consider home equity when determining how much financial aid a student will receive.
Previously USC withheld more financial aid for students coming from families who owned a home. But as home values have risen across the country — particularly in California — wages have stayed relatively consistent.
Folt told The Los Angeles Times that she was concerned that family homes might be preventing families from sending their children to USC.
"That just felt wrong," she told the Times.
USC's decision comes as millions of former college students attempt to pay off an estimated
$1.6 trillion in loan debt.