After UT’s announcement of new scholarships, students promote guide to ‘Being Not-Rich at UT’

Rolando Hernandez

In July, UT announced full tuition scholarships will be awarded to in-state undergraduates whose families make less than $65,000 a year starting in fall 2020. However, tuition is just one part of many expenses that come with college.

Last year, UT alumni Lewis Guapo (2019) and Eric Lee (2019) created a Google Doc called “Being Not-Rich at UT” to help low-income UT students. The document includes detailed information about how to find employment as well as how to navigate financial aid, career planning and study
abroad opportunities.

“You know how we always joke around that college students are poor? I’ve always felt that behind every joke there’s some reality,” said Guapo, who is a first-generation student. “So we said, ‘Let’s do something about it.’”

The pair said they were inspired to create the document after Lee saw a friend’s post on social media about a similar document called “Being Not-Rich at (the University of Michigan)” and shared their idea to make a UT version
with friends. 

“Many people were really enthusiastic about it, but no one was really sure how to start it,” Lee said. “So I thought, ‘Might as well start it and see where
it goes.’”

Vincent Pham, a cellular and molecular biology sophomore, said he found the document while browsing through the UT-Austin subreddit and has contributed to the research section. The document has helped Pham reconsider his study abroad options,
he said.

“I’ve never traveled the world before,” Pham said. “I knew it’d be expensive, but the doc gave me a very good starting point for finding scholarships and grants that will fund my adventures.” 

Pham said even students who qualify for free tuition could benefit from the document because of the useful information
it provides. 

“They still need income to pay for other expenses such as housing, food and books,” Pham said. “The doc provides much more information such as opportunities to study abroad, career opportunities and other things.” 

In the introduction section of the document, the contributors write that it is meant to be an honest space where low-income and first-generation students can talk about the many barriers they face. People can contribute by adding comments or applying to be a moderator.

“(Being Not-Rich at UT) provides an immense collection of advice and information for students going far beyond money,” Pham said. “(It) serves not as a door opener, but as the guidance to find
the door.”