Texas Advance Commitment covers both incoming, current students despite misunderstanding

Hannah Ortega

After a student-led petition gathered over 700 signatures, the University confirmed financial aid from Texas Advance Commitment will cover both current and incoming students, clearing up rumors circulating among students.

Student organization University Democrats created the petition late last month, calling for the commitment to cover both parties. However, University spokesperson J.B. Bird said this has always been the case. 

UT started the commitment in 2018 to make the University more affordable for middle- and low-income, in-state students with assured financial aid, according to the Texas Advance Commitment website.

“Since it was first launched in fall 2018, the Texas Advance Commitment has covered current undergraduate students at UT Austin in addition to incoming students,” Bird said in an email. “This is also the case with the Texas Advance Commitment expansion announced last summer and being implemented this fall, which covers both current and new students.”

Eli Melendrez, University Democrats communications director, said unclear wording on the Texas Advance Commitment website, which said freshmen and transfer students could qualify for aid under a new expansion to the program, led some students to believe the commitment would only cover incoming students.

Suseth Muñoz, an English, government and youth and community studies junior, said she expected to be covered by the commitment, but found that she had a large amount of loans in her financial aid package. She said she rejected these loans and doubted they were issued for housing.

“I just perceive that the financial aid office and UT really kind of misguided students — like, gave a very big message and just made it seem like students were going to be covered no matter what,” Muñoz said. “But I mean, now students are seeing that they're getting like $20,000 in loans. That's just ridiculous.”

Melendrez, a government and philosophy senior, said University Democrats, who helped advocate for the commitment, found several students in situations similar to Muñoz’s.

“After having worked for that commitment, we were definitely kind of distraught,” Melendrez said. “And … we found that to be the case for a lot of people. And we are obviously not super happy with the administration going back on a promise that we obviously worked so hard to get them to commit to.”

Bird said loans could come from factors such as books and living expenses since the commitment is only tuition-based. He also said that a typical financial aid package for someone with need applying for the commitment includes loans.

Public relations junior Stephanie Gomez said she signed the University Democrats petition and was frightened by the idea that current undergraduates would not be covered, but when she checked her CASH page, all her financial aid funds were there.

Under the new expansion, the commitment will cover tuition for students whose families earn an adjusted gross income of up to $65,000 and provide tuition support for students whose families earn an adjusted gross income of $125,000.

“For eligible students with family adjusted gross incomes between $65,000 and $125,000, students receive some additional financial assistance to help offset the cost of tuition,” Bird said in an email. “If a student is not eligible for the Texas Advance Commitment, and the student’s family subsequently experiences a drop in income, the student should file a Reduction in Income appeal for additional financial aid.”