The University of Texas in Austin is making an investment in the future of students in the ‘Longhorn state’ by increasing tuition assistance for those from middle- and low-income families and making its flagship research school even more affordable.

The Board of Regents voted unanimously Tuesday to establish a $160 million endowment from the state’s Permanent University Fund that will generate money for financial assistance beginning in the fall of 2020.

“Recognizing the need for improved access to higher education,” the new endowment will be used to expand UT Austin’s Texas Advance Commitment program for in-state undergraduate students.

  • It will completely cover full tuition and fees for students from families that earn up to $65,000 a year who have financial need—for more than 8,600 undergraduates a year.
  • It will expand a program to provide some assured tuition support to students from families with incomes of up to $125,000 who have financial need—for an additional 5,700 students

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“I am grateful to the UT System Board of Regents and Chairman Kevin Eltife for prioritizing students and investing in the future of our great state,” said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. “College affordability is one of the most critical issues affecting all Texans. Thanks to his leadership and the board’s action, this new endowment will go a long way toward making our university affordable for talented Texas students from every background and region.”

The regents’ vote represents one of the largest financial aid commitments to improve the predictability and affordability of higher education among the nation’s leading public research universities. The endowment (from a fund that includes money from oil and gas royalties earned from state-owned land) will support undergraduates from across Texas, including first-year through fourth-year and transfer students.

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“There is no greater engine of social and economic mobility than a college degree, and this initiative ensures that more Texans will benefit” said Chancellor James B. Milliken.

UT Austin, recognized as one of the world’s leading research universities, already has a smaller annual average for its undergraduate in-state tuition ($10,314 with fees) than 12 other Texas public universities, according to data published by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Thanks to recent financial aid expenditures by the school in 2016 and 2018, it currently provides full tuition assistance for students from families earning up to $30,000 a year and guaranteed financial aid for qualified families earning up to $100,000. More than 4,000 students were supported by that program during this past academic year, its first year of implementation.

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In awarding financial aid to middle- and low-income students, the university will continue to draw from multiple sources, including federal Pell grants, and the TEXAS Grants program, which received additional support from the Texas Legislature this year. The funds from the new endowment will then be used to supplement grants and scholarships.

In 2018, Kiplinger’s Best Value Colleges ranked UT Austin No. 8 in the nation, in a state where median household income was $59,206 in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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