The University of Michigan will offer free tuition to in-state students whose families make under $65,000 a year. The move was announced during a board meeting Thursday.

The program will be put in place in January 2018.

"This will change lives forever," said Regent Denise Ilitch.

The move is part of the drive to increase access to the university, officials said.

About half the families in the state will qualify for this incentive, U-M officials said. Those who qualify for the free tuition will also qualify for other financial aid to cover costs such as housing.

The program is called the Go Blue Guarantee and it will be marketed across the state.

UM President Mark Schlissel said the program was developed after hearing from families statewide about the soaring cost of college.

In-state undergraduate tuition will increase by 2.9% to $14,826 for the most common lower-division rate. Comparable tuition for out-of-state undergraduates will be $47,476, an increase of 4.5%. Tuition for most graduate programs will increase by 4.1%.

Not all board members were supportive of the entire budget.

Longtime Regent Andrea Fischer Newman voted against it, despite being happy for the free tuition program. She said there would still be students who struggled to afford to attend U-M.

"There's still going to be many families, especially middle class families, priced out of the University of Michigan," she said. She was the lone no vote on the budget.

The guarantee only affects those students attending the Ann Arbor campus, not U-M Dearborn or Flint.

"The 'Go Blue Guarantee' is a big win for Michigan families that want a better future, and it honors students who have worked hard to achieve their dreams," board Chairman Mark Bernstein said. "In short, we are doing the job that Lansing and Washington have failed to do.

"Today, we honor our promise to make college more affordable for families that need the most help. We're doing this without taking away any need-based financial aid from any family. In fact, many in-state students from families earning up to $125,000 a year are awarded scholarships and grants that pay half their tuition. .

"This is a transformative moment in the history of the University of Michigan - our state and nation is watching us."

After the board made their comments, Schlissel grew emotional as he talked about the new program.

"I think about the 7th grader in Ypsilanti or Grand Rapids or Detroit whose parents can say work hard and you can go to the University of Michigan," because there's no financial barrier, he said.

U-M isn't the only university across the nation to offer such a plan, however it is the only in the state of Michigan.

At Princeton, students who families make under $54,000 get a complete full ride, while students with less than $120,000 in family income get free tuition.

At Duke University, students whose families have incomes under $60,000 get a free full ride.

At Harvard, students whose families have incomes under $65,000, get a free full ride.

Those are private universities.

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