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UT Austin Selected for National Experiment with Funding for Nontraditional Students

UT Austin is one of eight universities selected to participate in a new, experimental U.S. Department of Education program that will allow nontraditional students to have access to $17 million in financial aid.

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AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas at Austin is one of eight universities selected to participate with private sector partners in a new, experimental U.S. Department of Education program that will allow nontraditional students to have access to $17 million in financial aid.

The Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) program will allow students, particularly low-income students, to access federal student aid to enroll in courses, including coding boot camps and online courses, offered by nontraditional training providers in partnership with colleges and universities.

Through the TEXAS Extended Campus and the Center for Lifelong Engineering Education, UT Austin is partnering with MakerSquare for content design and with Entangled Solutions for quality assurance evaluation to offer new coding boot camps. In coordination with MakerSquare, UT Austin will offer a 13-week certificate program in web development where students will learn a range of programming skills, including JavaScript and functional web computer programming to prepare them for jobs as mid-level software engineers.

The university anticipates that seven courses will be held during the first year in 2017, serving between 120 and 200 students who will be able to receive financial aid if they meet eligibility requirements.

According to the Department of Education, the goals of the experiment are to test new ways of allowing Americans from all backgrounds to access innovative learning and training opportunities that lead to good jobs, but that fall outside the current financial aid system; and to strengthen approaches for outcomes-based quality assurance processes that focus on student learning and other outcomes. The experiment aims to promote and measure college access, affordability and student outcomes.

“I’m thrilled that students will soon have access to these innovative programs, developed in partnership with colleges and new providers, with the help of federal financial aid,” said Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “As these innovative programs continue to develop, it will be increasingly important to understand what an outcomes-based quality assurance system looks like for such programs. I am encouraged to see that these colleges, providers and quality assurance entities have stepped forward to provide models for doing so.”

“The opportunity to offer financial aid to students seeking career-focused education and training will provide more pathways for people to achieve their academic and professional goals,” said Dr. Stephen Walls, deputy director of the TEXAS Extended Campus at UT Austin. “We are always committed to creating the best possible outcomes for our students and look forward to working closely with the Department of Education to build models that support greater access to high-quality educational programs at the university.”

“I am pleased to be partnering with my counterpart at TEXAS Extended Campus to work with the nontraditional providers to create innovative programs with pathways to employment and degree attainment that are federal financial aid eligible,” said Dr. Eric Roe, executive director of UT Austin’s Center for Lifelong Engineering Education.  

EQUIP falls under the Experimental Sites Initiative, which allows the Department of Education to provide statutory and regulatory flexibility for postsecondary institutions and to test the effectiveness of those changes. 

For more information on EQUIP and the Experimental Sites Initiative, visit the Department of Education news site