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Oct 16, 2013 11:43 AM EDT

University's Financial Aid Initiative Offers Free Tuition

Washington & Lee University will waive tuition for admitted students whose family income is lower than $75,000 through a new financial aid initiative, The Washington Business Journal reports.

Administrators at the small private college in Lexington, Va. said starting next fall; they will guarantee free tuition for undergraduate students who fall within the financial threshold through a program called the W&L Promise.

"The campaign explicitly cites our commitment to recruit and support students with exceptional personal and intellectual characteristics, regardless of financial circumstances," Washington and Lee president Kenneth Ruscio told the Washington Business Journal. "We are expanding financial aid through a strategy of endowment rather than increased tuition for full-pay students."

According to the U.S. News and World Report, Washington & Lee University's 2013-14 college and tuition fees are $44,507 for each of the 1,838 undergraduate students enrolled.

Ruscio said the W&L Program will highlight the university's effort to make their education affordable to qualified students.

"Making the University more affordable has been a key element for our strategic plan for the past six years said in a statement," he said. "To the extent that we have been successful in achieving elements of this plan, we are determined to do even more."

As a part of this program, undergraduates will receive full tuition without loans and may also be eligible for additional assistance without loans for room, board and educational expenses, based on demonstrated needs, according to the school's website.

Ruscio said the university, which has a 19.5 acceptance rate, would encourage undergraduates to apply to the college regardless of their finances.

"Not only has this effort to diversify our student body in socio-economic terms been a key tenet of our strategic plan, but we have also made need-based financial aid the largest goal of our current capital campaign," he said.

The School's website adds that it will continue to build on its efforts to raise $160 million for need-based financial aid.

The university is in its sixth year of its Johnson Scholarship, which provides full-tuition, room and board scholarships each year to up to 44 "of the most exceptionally qualified" students regardless of their family's financial circumstances. Students who receive this scholarship also receive financial support for summer opportunities such as internships, research and independent projects.

For admitted students from families in other income brackets, the university will continue to meet the full demonstrated need through grants and work-study jobs.

Washington and Lee University is the nation's ninth oldest institution of higher education.

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