Getting a college degree is a huge life step, and for many students it is also their first big financial investment. The question on the minds of many incoming students and their families is how to balance higher education opportunities with affordability.
Each year UT’s Office of Financial Aid helps nearly 30,000 students secure more than $475 million in financial aid. Whether the funds come from the university, private foundations, donors or other entities, these investments contribute to students’ succeeding at the university.
“Students that don’t have to work are more likely to graduate on time and with better performance,” says Diane Todd-Sprague, director of financial aid. Not having to worry about tuition payments enables students to benefit from the networking community, learning opportunities and work experiences scholarships can offer.
Scholarships are funds that don’t have to be repaid. Eligibility for undergraduates is generally determined through a holistic review of both financial need and academic merit.
“Getting a scholarship is an honor,” says Todd-Sprague. “Scholarships are prestigious, just like applying to the university. There is a rigorous selection process. These students are exceptional.”
Learn more about five notable scholarships and students that are making the most of them.
University Leadership Network
Gain Leadership Skills
|500 students per year
|$5,000 per year
|Incoming freshman with high potential and financial need
“The most important indicator of whether a student will struggle to graduate is whether he or she comes from an under-resourced background,” says David Laude, senior vice provost of enrollment and curriculum services. “We created the University Leadership Network to help students with the most financial need succeed and graduate in four years.”
ULN is an incentive-based scholarship program designed to help students be part of a community and provide them with leadership training. Students invited to participate in the program are held accountable to their academic goals with weekly meetings, professional development, community service, ULN events and reflection journal assignments. By meeting these program requirements students can earn $20,000 over four years.
The ULN is a wide-reaching program, assisting about 500 students a year. The embrace of this program is life changing for many. Juan Simon Michel, biochemistry junior, remembers when he found out he was selected to be part of the ULN.
“Through this scholarship I learned to lead from where I am.” —ULN Scholar, Juan Simon Michel
“First of all, I thought it was a scam!” he laughs. “It was a surreal moment. It felt as if all the problems of the world had been solved. As soon as I got that email that started it all, I called my parents and the inevitable tears of happiness started to roll down our cheeks.”
The heart of the ULN program is the leadership training that spans the classroom, community and workplace. The first year of the program focuses on mentoring — students helping students with professional development, academic needs and being far from home, a first for many ULN students. Years two through four provide students with internships on and off campus to prepare them for life after they graduate.
“Knowing that there is a group of people that cares for us as much as a family is unexplainable,” Michel says. One of the major reasons students from lower economic backgrounds struggle in higher education is a lack of institutional confidence. Student mentors help instill that confidence in incoming students.
“Through this scholarship I learned to lead from where I am,” Michel says. “One does not need a high rank position or be known by everybody to become a leader and someone people look up to.”
Forty Acres Scholars
Cultivate Your Network
|15-20 students each year
|$30,000 per year (includes $13,000 stipend for enrichment opportunities to be used over four years)
|Incoming freshman with high merit
The Forty Acres Scholars Program, funded by TexasExes, offers a rich college experience that provides academic, leadership and cultural opportunities within an intimate cohort of fellow scholars, who all have access to UT Austin’s vast and distinguished alumni network.
In addition to funding that covers all tuition, living costs and books, Forty Acres Scholars also have access to an “enrichment stipend” — $13,000 awarded to each scholar enabling them to pursue opportunities outside of the Forty Acres, from philanthropic projects to internships to study abroad.
Bronwyn Scott, biochemistry junior, remembers when she got the call from the scholarship committee. “It was one of the most unreal moments of my life,” she says. “It was a really uplifting feeling to realize that I had been recognized as someone who could, to quote UT, ‘Change the World’.”
“I now feel entirely comfortable going up to adults who are prominent members in their fields. This has proved helpful in situations where, for example, I am the only person under 30 presenting a research paper at a conference.” —Forty Acres Scholar, Bronwyn Scott
As part of the Forty Acres Scholarship Program students interact with accomplished alumni, including Michael Hartman, CEO of Amy’s Ice Cream, and Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey. These connections are crafted based on the students’ academic and professional interests. Scott notes that access to alumni is great training in networking.
“I now feel entirely comfortable going up to adults who are prominent members in their fields and making good conversation with them,” Scott says. “This has proved helpful in situations where, for example, I am the only person under 30 presenting a research paper at a conference.”
She also took advantage of her enrichment stipend last summer when she did a research internship in Italy that also included a philanthropic activity.
“When I tell people I spent the summer in Italy, they are always surprised to hear that the impetus for my trip was the opportunity I received to conduct regenerative medicine research,” Scott says.
When UT’s best go out into the world to learn, they take their valuable experience with them. “I was also able to contribute knowledge I had attained working in large research facilities in the United States.” Scott says, “I experienced not only an exchange of culture, but an exchange of science!”
Engage in Experiential Learning
|450 students each year
|$5,000 per year + $1500 Individual opportunity scholarship
|Incoming freshman with high merit and financial need
The Presidential Scholars Program is an incentive program designed to bring the best and brightest to the university. Offering around 450 scholarships a year, funded by donations, the Presidential Scholarship offers promising Longhorn students the resources and financial support they need to stay focused on their studies and engage in experiential learning.
“Through the Presidential Scholars program our students grow professionally and personally, becoming leaders who help maintain our university’s reputation as one of the best public research universities in the world.” —President Gregory L. Fenves
In addition to financial support, scholars benefit from a dedicated team helping them navigate the institution. Presidential Scholars receive guidance on meeting with professors, taking advantage of learning resources and connecting with the UT community. The support team helps students craft their degree progress and stay on track to graduate.
“Through the Presidential Scholars program our students grow professionally and personally, becoming leaders who help maintain our university’s reputation as one of the best public research universities in the world,” says President Gregory L. Fenves.
On top of the $5,000 given to the scholars annually, there is a one-time $1,500 Enrichment Scholarship to be used for an internship, research, study abroad or professional conference experience. The goal is to encourage scholars to engage in experiential learning, strengthen their resume and explore career options.
“The scholarship helped me focus on my work instead of on paying the bills,” says electrical engineering junior Leon Kozinakov, who used his enrichment scholarship to intern at NASA.
“I got to do a lot of interesting things at NASA,” Kozinakov says. “The virtual reality lab where we got to try on some headgear and ‘walked’ on the International Space Station, the historic Mission Control Center and a tour of the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. I truly got to do and experience things that only a select few people in the world ever will.”
Access to explore dream opportunities is the goal of the Presidential Scholarship. The extra money allows students to go for opportunities they might have thought were once out of their reach.
“The scholarship gave me the resources and encouragement to pursue adventures beyond the classic studying environment,” says Kenya Morrow, civil engineering senior.
Morrow took her study of engineering concepts abroad to Stockholm, Sweden.
“Sweden is one of the most expensive countries to study abroad in,” Morrow says. “Without the assistance offered, I may have deferred my attention to the stressful topic of providing for myself financially. The scholarship has helped me achieve my dream of traveling the world, while being able to be financially responsible and, as much as possible, independent from other financial means.”
Find Your Community of Scholars
|60 Traditional (incoming) students per year
20 Transfer students per year
|Traditional Scholars received an average scholarship of $18,000 for 2015-2016. Transfer Scholars received a set stipend of $8,650 for 2015-2016. (Varies per student. Funds up to the official Cost of Attendance.)
|Incoming freshman and transfers with high merit, demonstrated leadership, and financial need
“Every Terry Scholar has a great story to tell and life-changing advice to share.” —Terry Scholar, Ye Rim “Ashley” Choi
The Terry Scholarship has Longhorn roots. Howard L. Terry, BBA ’38, and his wife, Nancy, founded the Terry Foundation, the Houston-based non-profit that funds the scholarship. Terry, a self-made businessman born in Milam County in 1916, had a football scholarship to UT. He once said receiving that scholarship was one of the most important events in his life.
In the spirit of paying it forward, the Terry Scholarship offers exceptional Texas high school graduates and transfer students assistance to cover tuition, books and living costs, renewable for up to four years for Traditional Scholars and up to three years for Transfer Scholars. The goal is to help the scholars graduate debt free. This year the foundation is sponsoring 1640 Terry Scholars statewide; on average, 80 of these Scholars enter UT Austin each year. The Terry Foundation’s goal is to foster enterprise by “helping Texas college students to help themselves.”
Terry Scholars are not just outstanding students. They have also faced and overcome hardship. Ye Rim “Ashley” Choi, international relations junior, says, “In my humble opinion, my resilience to face what life threw at me led me to being chosen as a Terry Scholar.”
Choi and her family immigrated to the United States from Korea when she was 14. Learning English and overcoming the cultural gap was a defining struggle, but it is her close relationship with her transgender brother that shaped Choi’s academic career.
“My then-sister came out as transgender in February 2012,” she says, “and my conservative Korean parents did not react quite well at first.” Choi acted as a mediator between her brother and parents.
This experience inspired her to pursue a degree in international relations and Arabic with a focus on LGBT advocacy in the Middle East.
“My brother’s bravery and endurance to embrace his authentic self inspired me to be someone patient and tolerant,” says Choi.
The Terry Scholarship provides students freedom from unnecessary loan debt, which allows Scholars the opportunity to pursue their individual dreams. For Ashley, it was working at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission as an advocacy intern in New York and attending the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to work with a group focusing on LGBT human rights.
“Every Terry Scholar has a great story to tell and life-changing advice to share,” says Choi, who serves as vice president of the university’s Terry Student Association, helping to organize events that connect Terry Scholars with each other and with Austin through service projects.
This welcoming community of scholars is an important benefit of the scholarship. It helps students develop leadership skills and a support network. “I am truly grateful for all the meaningful friendships I have made with my fellow Terry Scholars, some of whom I am incredibly privileged to call my lifelong friends.”
Explore the World
|30 students per year
|$4,000 upon admission
|Incoming freshman with high merit and financial need
“I never would have thought studying abroad was an option for me. Now, I’m inspired to do even more traveling.” —Jared Stewart, Hutchison Scholar
The Hutchison Scholarship opens the doors of international study to students who never would have considered it.
“We found that waiting for first-generation college students to apply for study abroad wasn’t working,” says Margret Storm McCullers, coordinator of the Hutchison Scholars Program in the UT International Office. “There were institutional barriers keeping them out.”
Unlike most scholarships, the Hutchison Scholarship has no application. The program offers a one-time award of $4,000 upon admission to approximately 30 outstanding first-generation college freshman as an invitation to study abroad. McCullers says, this proactive method “is reaching an audience that would not likely consider studying abroad.”
As a first-generation college student, Jared Stewart, mathematics junior, says trying to live up to the expectations of his very proud family was a challenge.
“They looked at me as the smartest and thought I did not need much advice going in,” says Stewart. “But in reality I actually needed more guidance than I thought I did.”
Like many of these scholarships, the success of the Hutchison is about more than just money. Scholars have advising sessions to help them navigate academic credit concerns and the logistics of studying abroad.
“Growing up I never had the opportunity to travel, let alone even fly on an airplane,” Stewart says. “So this actually opened the door for me to be able to do those things.”
Stewart used his scholarship to study in Cape Town, South Africa, the summer after his freshman year. Using the skills he learned from the Hutchison program, he sought out another scholarship to fund a second trip to Beijing. “I never would have thought studying abroad was an option for me. Now, I’m inspired to do even more traveling,” he says.