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UTSA extends free tuition Promise scholarship to AlamoPROMISE transfers

officials applauding Promise to Promise student Nia Houston.jpg
UTSA President Taylor Eighmy, Alamo Colleges Chancellor Mike Flores and other school officials applaud Promise-to-Promise student Nia Houston at an event at Alamo Colleges announcing the scholarship.

A new partnership between the Alamo Colleges and the University of Texas at San Antonio allows students to take advantage of Promise scholarships at both schools.

Promise programs promise students who qualify that all tuition and fees will be covered at their institution for long enough for them to graduate. The funding usually comes from a variety of sources, including state and federal grants.

UTSA and the Alamo Colleges both launched Promise programs in the fall of 2020, but, until now, students had to enroll at UTSA as freshmen in order to qualify for the university’s Promise program.

Starting next fall, AlamoPROMISE graduates who transfer to UTSA may be eligible for UTSA’s Bold Promise scholarship too, allowing them to earn both an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree without paying tuition or mandatory fees.

UTSA student Nia Houston is part of a pilot program for the transfer scholarship that launched this year.

“When I first transferred to UTSA, I thought I was going to have to work full time at H-E-B and still take out student loans,” said Houston, who graduated from San Antonio College in 2021. “Now as part of the UTSA Bold Promise program, all I have to do is focus on my schoolwork.”

When a UTSA employee first called her to invite her to participate, Houston said she hung up because she thought it was a scam.

“I thought it was too good to be true,” Houston said. “I get to graduate college with zero debt. The generation before me didn't get to do that. I hit the jackpot twice at Alamo Colleges and at UTSA.”

To qualify for both programs, students need to enroll at one of the Alamo Colleges immediately after graduating from a participating Bexar County high school, earn a 3.25 GPA at the Alamo Colleges, and have a family income of $70,000 or less.

At the ceremony announcing the Promise-to-Promise transfer partnership, officials celebrated the program as a fulfillment of a goal set four years ago, when UTSA and Alamo Colleges first started planning their promise scholarships.

“It's finally here. Here it is,” said Alamo Colleges Chancellor Mike Flores, calling it a “glorious morning.”

“These things don't happen with the waving of a magic wand. It takes an immense amount of preparation and coordination and communication and trust,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “I'm really proud of the fact that our two teams worked so closely to realize this because it's impacting lives every day.”

Flores said Promise programs address the core reality for a lot of prospective college students: that deciding whether or not to go to college begins with whether or not they can afford it.

“And it's not only about, 'Can I afford to go to the Alamo Colleges?' What they do is they consider whether they can afford to work less hours,” Flores said, adding that Promise programs take away the worry of having to pay for tuition on top of working fewer hours so they can study.

Eighmy said that both UTSA and the Alamo Colleges are committed to increasing access to college.

“We're all born with the same potential and not given the same opportunities,” Eighmy said. “A higher education degree is essential in effecting one's trajectory in life. And as institutions we both believe deeply in the purpose of that.”

One in three UTSA undergraduates are transfer students, and about half of UTSA’s transfer students come from the Alamo Colleges.

Flores said Alamo Colleges enrolls about 4,000 students a year in its AlamoPROMISE program. Eighmy said about 2,300 students have benefited from Bold PROMISE so far.

Both UTSA and two of the Alamo Colleges have been awarded millions of dollars in unrestricted funding from Mackenzie Scott within the last few years. Eighmy said UTSA invested Scott’s donation along with an increase in support for Promise from the UT System and is using the annual investment payout from that investment to support Bold Promise, along with institutional funding and other philanthropic support.

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Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org, on Instagram at camille.m.phillips and on Twitter at @cmpcamille. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.