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Education

New A&M-San Antonio Scholarship Promises Free Tuition To Students In The Top 10%

Texas A&M University-San Antonio is offering a new scholarship for high-performing students. The Achiever Promise scholarship provides free tuition to students in the top 10% of their class and students with at least 30 hours of dual credit.

The new scholarship is supported by a $100 million diversity fund from the Texas A&M System. Each of the system’s 11 universities were given the freedom to tailor the scholarship to help their school “look more like Texas.”

A&M-San Antonio President Cynthia Teniente-Matson said the Achiever Promise scholarship will help the university compete with colleges from other parts of Texas and the country that offer more merit-based scholarships, and give local students in the top 10% of their class an affordable option close to home.

“(High-achieving) students were getting much richer scholarships than what we were able to offer,” Teniente-Matson said. “But there are a lot of hidden costs in that, including living expenses and travel expenses, and not being able to come home during family emergencies or times when they're needed, or just being homesick.”

Teniente-Matson said A&M-San Antonio was created 11 years ago to fill the unmet need for higher education in south San Antonio, and the university would continue to fill that need.

“This doesn't leave anybody out. We still have commitments to other students, but this allows us to place more scholarship dollars in that community,” Teniente-Matson said. “We know that we're a ripe recruiting ground for those top 10% students, especially if they're also historically underrepresented minority groups.”

About half of A&M-San Antonio’s students receive need-based financial aid. Three out of four students are Latino, and many are the first in their family to go to college.

When the A&M system announced the $100 million diversity scholarship fund in June, Board of Regents chair Elaine Mendoza said the economic recession brought on by the pandemic made the scholarship a top priority.

“We want to do everything we can to recruit underrepresented groups and be competitive with especially out-of-state schools that are coming in to take our students away,” Mendoza said when the fund was announced.

Just over 50% of Texas is Black or Latino, but Black and Latino students only make up about a quarter of the enrollment at Texas A&M’s flagship campus in College Station.

A&M-San Antonio announced the new Achiever Promise scholarship Tuesday at East Central High School.

During the ceremony, East Central Superintendent Roland Toscano said he had seen generations of students leave the area for college and rack up debt.

“We are fortunate to have a fantastic university right here in our own backyard that is offering a tremendous opportunity unlike any I would have ever imagined 25 years ago when I began my career in education here at East Central,” Toscano said. “It’s an opportunity your parents and I could only have dreamed of.”

East Central is one of the seven south Bexar County districts in the ASPIRE compact, a partnership formed with A&M-San Antonio last year to better support education on the South Side.

The Achiever Promise scholarship covers tuition after other grants and scholarships are applied, including need-based aid like the Pell grant. It does not cover fees, room or board.