FAIRFIELD - Fairfield University is offering a new scholarship for students who graduate from any public or parochial high school in Bridgeport to ease the financial burden of lower-income applicants from nearby.

If students are accepted into Fairfield and their annual family income is less than $50,000, they qualify for free tuition, which will reach $35,000 next year.

Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey von Arx says helping out Bridgeport in turn helps the university.

The new program follows a long list of colleges across the country that have expanded their financial aid programs during the past year. Fairfield has accepted 19 students from Bridgeport for next year who qualify for the scholarships.

The Bridgeport tuition plan does not cover the costs of food or housing.