Loan-Free College Expands

Changes in need-based financial aid packages mean a Rice education is more accessible than ever.

Illustration of an owl standing on a snake that is covered in dollar signs
Illustration by Errata Carmona

No more burdensome student loans. That’s the heartening message from Rice, which announced this past December that need-based financial aid packages for both domestic and international undergraduate students will no longer include loans. The new policy, which takes effect in fall 2022, expands on an existing commitment to make financial aid packages for students with family annual incomes of less than $200,000 loan free.

Also announced in December was an expansion of the annual income brackets that determine how much aid students can receive via the Rice Investment, crucially affecting students from low-income families. Students with family incomes below $75,000 will be given grant aid covering full tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board. Scholarships covering full tuition will be awarded to students with family incomes between $75,000 and $140,000. The last bracket, between $140,000 and $200,000, can receive scholarships that will cover at least half of tuition costs.

“Access and affordability are limited if you have a program that can’t be easily explained,” President David Leebron told the Houston Chronicle. “If you think you need assistance … now we will say, ‘No, you don’t need to borrow money. We will provide financial aid.’”

Current students will also see the shift in their financial aid awards beginning this fall.

“The original goal of the Rice Investment is to invest in the promise of students, regardless of their financial background,” said Anne Walker, assistant vice president and executive director of university financial aid services. “By offering financial aid packages without loans, we are continuing to invest in our students and their ability to create a bright future free from student debt.” — Doug Miller