FILE - University of Texas clock tower

The University of Texas Clock Tower on campus in Austin. Content Exchange

The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted Tuesday to establish a scholarship program that will provide free tuition to in-state students whose families earn up to $65,000 a year.

“Recognizing both the need for improved access to higher education and the high value of a UT Austin degree, we are dedicating a distribution from the Permanent University Fund to establish an endowment that will directly benefit students and make their degrees more affordable,” Board Chairman Kevin Eltife said in a statement. “This will benefit students of our great state for years to come.”

The regents vote establishes a $160 million endowment that will generate money for financial assistance beginning in fall 2020, according to a news release from the university.

The endowment will, according to the university completely cover tuition and fees for students from families that earn up to $65,000 a year who have financial need, and provide some tuition support to students from families with incomes of up to $125,000 who have financial need.

The median household income in Texas was $59,206 in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The scholarships will be paid for with funding from the Permanent University Fund, which is largely funded with money from oil and gas royalties earned on state-owned land in West Texas, as well as investments.

With the new endowments, the University of Texas will be able to provide full tuition coverage to more than 8,600 undergraduates annually as well as tuition support to an additional 5,700 students, the news release said.

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