University to provide free tuition, increased financial support

Maria Mendez

Next fall, UT will cover tuition for qualified Texas freshmen from families earning up to $30,000 through four-year awards.

On Friday, UT President Gregory Fenves announced the University will also guarantee grants and scholarships to all freshmen from Texas families earning up to $100,000 (adjusted gross incomes) and who demonstrate financial need. The median household income in Texas is $54,727, according to the U.S. Census.

“Our goal is for a high-quality UT education to be affordable and accessible to qualified students with financial need from across the state,” Fenves said in an email to students.
The new financial awards will first be distributed to incoming students in the class of 2022, according to the University’s website. To qualify, students will have to be incoming, in-state students entering college for the first time and who demonstrate financial need by filing a FAFSA application or the Texas Application for State Financial Aid. To keep the four-year awards, students must maintain a good standing and a 2.0 grade-point-average.

The awards will vary from $300 to $11,000, depending on a students’ financial need. The University estimates 3,000 freshmen will benefit from the awards per year.

The awards build upon Fenves’ 2016 announcement to increase financial support for middle-income families by $15 million, or $7.5 million a year, for two years. On top of Fenves’ allocation and other funding previously utilized for need-based aid, the Texas Advance awards will be funded through $5 million from new recurring endowment funds approved by the UT System Board of Regents.

“What’s new and important is that if you’re admitted, have financial need and come from a family earning $100,000 or less, we can guarantee you financial aid,” said Joey Williams, communications director for the provost’s office. “(The University hasn’t) been able to say that before.”

Additional new awards include Completion Grants to help students graduate on time, Impact Scholarships for students helping their communities and micro scholarships for high schoolers preparing for college.

“This additional student aid funding reinforces our efforts to support student success and timely graduation,” said Rachelle Hernandez, senior vice provost for enrollment management, in a press release.

The awards come after the recent approval of 2 percent tuition hikes for the next two academic years, after which Fenves promised to provide additional financial aid for students.

“The Texas Advance Commitment is a long-term investment in our students, their families and the people of Texas,” Fenves said.