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UTSA boosts income limits for free tuition program to $70,000

Bicycles line up outside HEB Student Union on the UTSA campus July 23, 2019.
Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio

The University of Texas at San Antonio has raised the income limit for its Bold Promise free tuition program.

First-time students who enroll full time at UTSA next fall will be eligible for Bold Promise if their family income is $70,000 a year or less. The current income limit is $50,500.

Students must also have recently graduated from a Texas high school in the top 25% of their class. Transfer students are not eligible for the program.

Bold Promise covers tuition and fees at UTSA for four years. Students must meet the university’s Jan. 15 priority financial aid deadline in order to qualify.

Lynn Barnes, UTSA’s senior vice-provost of strategic enrollment, said the university has been looking at ways to expand access to Bold Promise since it started two years ago.

“We did an analysis and figured out that for a little bit more university investment we could cover more students just by looking at a higher income threshold,” Barnes said. “There's other universities that have done this recently… UT Rio Grande Valley recently upped their income (threshold) quite a bit.”

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Barnes said the increased income limit will help attract more students to UTSA and “provide more resources for our neediest students.”

“It does benefit families who have modest income but aren't quite at the level of being Pell Grant eligible,” said Barnes. “Your middle income families who have less financial resources through existing programs.”

UTRGV offers free tuition to both new students and transfer students with incomes up to $95,000. UT Austin provides free tuition to both new students and transfers with incomes up to $65,000, with partial support provided to students with incomes up to $125,000.

About 40% of new students at UTSA are transfers. Barnes said UTSA is looking into what it would take to make transfer students eligible for Bold Promise, but hasn’t worked out all the details just yet.

“We get a very large transfer population from the Alamo Colleges, and so we're looking at a couple different aspects (of collaborating with the community college district), but we have not fully finished that analysis and made a decision on that,” Barnes said. “Transfer students typically will, on average, have a little bit higher need than incoming freshmen just because of the typical financial profile of that population.”

Barnes said the increased income threshold for Bold Promise is not being paid for through Mackenzie Scott’s $40 million donation to the school.

“The McKenzie Scott gift is still being analyzed as far as how those will be used to help students succeed,” Barnes said. “These are resources that are coming to the university through our enrollment growth and just through our traditional funding mechanisms.”

He said it was important for students to complete their FAFSA early and include UTSA as one of the 10 universities they want to have their FAFSA results sent to in order for them to qualify for Bold Promise.

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