Texas Advance Commitment expansion brings tuition help, confusion to UT-Austin students

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Photo Credit: Rocky Higine | Daily Texan Staff

Under the expansion of the Texas Advance Commitment for fall 2020, 13,000 students have benefited, with 9,000 students receiving aid to fully cover tuition and nearly 4,000 receiving tuition assistance, said Carolyn Connerat, associate vice provost for enrollment management. 

The Texas Advance Commitment guarantees tuition is covered for students from families with up to $65,000 of adjusted gross income and offers tuition support for students from families that make up up to $125,000, but it may not show up on a student’s tuition bill, Connerat said.

“The amount of aid that may show up on their financial aid notice may include their Pell Grant or a Texas grant or institutional aid to cover up to tuition, so it may not say ‘Texas Advance Commitment,’” Connerat said. “Texas Advance Commitment is (an) umbrella program that says we're committed to make sure that we're going to cover your tuition for you if (you meet the qualifications).”

Connerat said students entering UT during any spring, summer or fall semester may qualify for the program’s coverage.

“Starting this year, if students come in in the spring, they will also be eligible,” Connerat said. “Each semester they're going to reevaluate students based on their current FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and their eligibility.”

 

When undeclared freshman Jocelyne Covarrubias was applying to college, attendance cost was a big factor in her decision. Covarrubias said she did not receive any communication about the Texas Advance Commitment.

After reaching out to UT, she said she was told the program is automatically applied based on information from FAFSA, leading to confusion when looking at her tuition bill.

“Every time I would call Texas One Stop, it was something completely different,” Covarrubias said. “(One person said), ‘Your tuition is completely paid for, (and) none of your financial aid went towards that,’ (but) then somebody else (said), ‘A part of your financial aid did go towards (tuition).’”

Covarrubias said it is hard for her to navigate the financial aid process as a first-generation college student.

“I check my UT account almost weekly to make sure that I don't have any surprises because I don't know what’s reliable (information) and what's not,” Covarrubias said.

Neuroscience sophomore Annisa Salsabila said the program is a good first step to help low-income students.

“It would be even better if they could cover maybe housing … because I know a lot of people are struggling more to get all the money they need to pay for rent, electricity, bills (and) groceries as opposed to tuition itself,” Salsabila said.