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Education

Trinity University Agrees To Meet Full Financial Need Of San Antonio ISD Students Who Are Admitted

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www.trinity.edu

Trinity University has agreed to meet the full financial need of San Antonio Independent School District students admitted to the university.

The agreement signed earlier this week includes tuition, room, board, books and fees — an estimated cost of more than $62,000 a year. Some of that cost may be covered by work study and federally subsidized loans.

“If loans are part of the equation to help finance the cost, it's very modest,” said Justin Doty, Trinity’s dean of admissions, during a Zoom call announcing the agreement Wednesday. “We're capping loans for these students at $3,500 annually so upon graduation it is feasible to repay this kind of investment.”

The memorandum of understanding between Trinity and SAISD stipulates that any outside scholarships the student obtains will replace loans and work study, rather than reducing federal and state grants.

Eduardo Sesatty, SAISD’s director of post-secondary initiatives, said the agreement gives top-performing SAISD students the option of attending a selective liberal arts college.

“Many of our students may find it difficult to leave home for college,” said Sesatty. “This partnership ensures that our students do not compromise getting access to a high-quality education simply because of geographical choices.”

Doty said Trinity has been looking into ways to better meet the needs of local students for about a year, after noticing a growing number of applicants with high financial need.

“(SAISD’s) Alamo Stadium is right across the street from Trinity, and so we just thought, 'Let's start with this district.' It's literally in our backyard. And maybe hopefully kind of expand out over time,” Doty said.

There are five SAISD graduates in Trinity’s current first-year class. Doty and Sesatty said they would like to see at least 10 enroll in future classes.

“We would love to enroll more than 10,” Doty said. “Any students who end up enrolling, no matter what that number is, we're committed to funding them appropriately.”

SAISD’s agreement with Trinity is one of several the district has made with higher education institutions. A similar agreement signed with the University of Texas at San Antonio in July commits the university to covering the tuition of SAISD graduates in the top 50% of their class.

Sesatty said the formal partnerships create a pipeline of “colleges that are committed to our students the way that we are committed to them.”

In addition to financial aid, the agreements set goals for close communication between the district and the university to help support students from the time they apply to college until they earn their college degree.

“We still know that there are a lot of students who might not be going anywhere,” Sesatty said, adding that multiple partnerships allow the district to direct students to the colleges they qualify for based on their GPA and SAT scores.

SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said he was thrilled to form a partnership with Trinity because of its high degree completion rate. Almost 80% of Trinity students graduate within six years.

“As we have more and more students that want to go to liberal arts colleges, and they're getting into colleges like Smith and Dartmouth… many of them get into Trinity, but the financial aid packages have always been more generous outside of our state,” Martinez said. “This equalizes it so that our students actually have a real option of (going to their) top-tier university here in San Antonio.”

SAISD’s agreement with UTSA calls for a cohort of about 200 SAISD graduates each year and a 50% six-year graduation rate. The agreement with Trinity calls for an 80% graduation rate.

UTSA has a much higher percentage of transfer students and part-time students than Trinity, which affects the university’s graduation rate.

Jonathan Hernandez, a college-bound adviser for his alma mater, Jefferson High School, said the commitment to support students beyond finances through mentorships and other means is especially important.

Hernandez said conversations with his professors and work study supervisor were fundamental to his ability to persevere in his studies and obtain his degree from Trinity.

“I've seen firsthand the needs that our students face on a daily basis, both personally and professionally. I understand that sometimes our students go home and there's no electricity at home, I understand that our students struggle with paying for everyday needs, especially right now in the times that we find ourselves in,” Hernandez said. “Just a six-minute drive down Hildebrand is what separates Jefferson from Trinity. And so Trinity is a unique place.”