The free tuition program at UTSA is expanding
Hundreds more students at the University of Texas at San Antonio will be eligible for full tuition, thanks to a new $3 million endowment from the University of Texas system.
The UT system’s board of trustees last month approved the creation of a $300 million endowment to lower the cost of higher education for undergraduates to seven.
Isystem institutions, including UTSA. Called Promise Plus, the endowment will continue to grow each year to provide aid to more students across the state.
UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken, Chairman of the Board Kevin P. Eltfie, UTSA President Taylor Eighmy, and State Senator José Menéndez touted the expanded tuition assistance program during a press conference Monday at the downtown San Antonio campus.
Milliken said he visits all seven UT campuses to make sure students know this help is available.
“We’ve found over time that parents and students overestimate the cost of college and underestimate the help available,” he said. “We want everyone to know about the area’s Promise Plus program so they know what help is available.”
UTSA’s $3 million share of the endowment has allowed the university to expand its tuition-free program to hundreds more students. Launched in 2019, the Bold Promise program pays all tuition and fees for freshmen with household incomes up to $70,000, up from $50,500 previously.
More than 1,700 students have benefited from the Bold Promise program and another 3,800 have qualified for fall 2022, Eighmy said. UTSA does not know how many students will accept offers for the fall.
Bold Promise students outperform their peers, with 82% returning for their sophomore year compared to 77% of other students, Eighmy said. They also earn more credit hours on average and have higher GPAs than their peers.
“The success of Bold Promise students is revealed when they have the right opportunity and the right environment, students from all backgrounds can be successful,” he said.
To be eligible, students must be recent graduates from a Texas high school who ranked in the top 25% of their class, and they must take at least 12 credit hours each semester.
Gabby Palacios, a freshman at UTSA, said she probably wouldn’t have attended college without the Bold Promise program, which she heard about on the news and from UTSA. She is the first person in her family to attend college, so she didn’t know much about the application and financial aid process until UTSA contacted her.
“Not only did it give me the opportunity to really kick start my graduate studies, but it also opened the door to new opportunities for me,” she said. “I am a first generation student. Before me, my younger sister probably didn’t think there was a chance of her going to college, but with my opportunities and the things I’ve been able to do with what I’ve been given, this possibility is definitely seems much greater.
The program covers all tuition and fees for four consecutive years after other financial aid has been applied to a student’s account, but it does not pay for meals or housing.
The average tuition and fees at UTSA cost around $9,700 per year, according to the Texas Public Higher Education Almanac 2020.
Nearly 45% of UTSA students receive as needed Federal Pell Grantsaccording to the Texas Public Higher Education Almanac.
Other institutions that will benefit from the new UT system endowment include UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT El Paso, UT Permian Basin, UT Rio Grande Valley, and UT Tyler.
The Alamo College District offers a similar program for high school graduates of 47 participating high schools in San Antonio. Launched in 2020, the Alamo Promise Program is a last-dollar scholarship initiative that covers students’ tuition and fees for up to three years or until they graduate with an associate’s degree. About 3,000 students participated in the Alamo Promise program in its first year.