UT-Austin Expands Financial Aid For Lower-Income Students

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AUSTIN, TX — In an effort to keep the attainment of higher education affordable, the University of Texas at Austin is expanding financial aid to incoming undergraduate students from low- and middle-income families, officials announced this week.

Starting this fall, new incoming UT Austin Texas freshmen with family incomes of up to $100,000 in adjusted gross income) who have financial need will be guaranteed financial aid through the Texas Advance Commitment, officials said. As part of this program, students with annual family incomes of up to $30,000 who have financial need are guaranteed to receive enough aid to completely cover their tuition costs, officials added.

Designed to reduce financial barriers to a UT Austin education for lower- and middle-income students, this expanded commitment will help students and their families more clearly understand what financial aid they can rely on over their four years as they plan for the costs associated with attending the university, officials added. The additional aid will help students graduate on time and with less debt, they added.

"It is imperative that the university do more to help lower- and middle-income Texans afford a UT Austin education. UT has made significant progress in past years, but we must continue to expand our efforts to make higher education accessible," UT-Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. "This is an investment in our students, their families and the people of Texas."

Funding for these awards comes from a recurring $5 million in new funds for campus from the Available University Fund (AUF), approved by the UT System Board of Regents, according to officials.

The initiative comes on the heels of a $7.5 million annual allotment Fenves set aside for middle-income financial aid awards beginning in 2016 as well as previous, recent UT investments in supporting low-income Texas students, officials noted. The aim of the initiative is part of the university’s long-term commitment to fostering upward mobility among low- and middle-income Texans, which President Fenves announced in his State of the University address in 2017, officials said.

To be eligible for a Texas Advance Commitment Award, students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) or a Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA), be admitted to and enrolled as a first-time freshman and have demonstrated financial need. The university has already included these new awards in the financial aid packages for new, fall 2018 freshmen. Program details can be found at https://texasadvance.utexas.edu/.

"We are excited to launch the Texas Advance Commitment Award as part of our commitment to increasing access and making a UT Austin education a reality for Texans across the state," Rachelle Hernandez, senior vice provost for enrollment management at UT Austin, said. "This additional student aid funding reinforces our efforts to support student success and timely graduation. This new program reflects our strong commitment to ensuring access to a world-class education for our state’s future leaders."

To learn more about how family income and other factors can affect the types of financial aid applicants are eligible to receive, visit our Texas Advance Commitment website.

The announcement also comes in the wake of soaring tuition rates at the UT system over recent years. While other state universities in Texas have cut staff or made minimum employee increases, the Texas Monitor recently reported, administrative ranks at the UT System "exploded" between 2011 and 2017.

That swell in administrative ranks has come at a cost to students, as the Texas Monitor reported. Between 2003 and 2013, the cost of tuition and fees at UT at Austin, the system’s largest school, increased 80 percent, according to the report. Since that time, tuition increases have been moderate while state funding has increased.

The state’s largest public academic system proposed a second straight year of tuition increases at a time when its administrative ranks grew by 64 percent — hitting the mark of 923 administrative employees in 2017, according to records, according to the Monitor. The UT system comprising 14 academic and medical campuses around the state, attributed the tuition increases to diminished state funding.

>>> Photo of UT-Austin tower by Tony Cantú

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