AUSTIN (AP) – State officials have made a policy change that allows college students to receive a mandated meningitis vaccine for free.

After the Austin American-Statesman raised questions, state officials said Friday that they have notified local health departments and clinics that students are eligible to get the new vaccine for free if they cannot afford it College administrators said the $100 to $200 price for the vaccine was proving cost-prohibitive for some students.

Students who live on campus have been required since 2009 to get the meningitis vaccine. Earlier this year, the Legislature extended the requirement to all incoming students under age 30, including those who live off-campus.

The newspaper reports that Texas is the first state in the nation with such a broad mandate.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)