AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas System Board of Regents has made an investment in the future for students at UT Austin that will increase tuition assistance for those from middle- and low-income families and make the state’s flagship research university even more affordable.
Under the leadership of Chairman Kevin Eltife and Chancellor James B. Milliken, the regents voted unanimously Tuesday to establish a $160 million endowment from a distribution of the state’s Permanent University Fund that will generate money for financial assistance beginning in fall 2020.
“Recognizing both the need for improved access to higher education and the high value of a UT Austin degree, we are dedicating a distribution from the Permanent University Fund to establish an endowment that will directly benefit students and make their degrees more affordable,” Chairman Eltife said after the vote. “This will benefit students of our great state for years to come.”
The new endowment will be used to expand UT Austin’s Texas Advance Commitment program for in-state undergraduate students to:
- Completely cover tuition and fees for students from families that earn up to $65,000 a year who have financial need, and,
- Provide some assured tuition support to students from families with incomes of up to $125,000 who have financial need.
The median household income in Texas was $59,206 in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“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. “Chairman Eltife understands that 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 will support undergraduates from across Texas, including first-year through fourth-year and transfer students.
“There is no greater engine of social and economic mobility than a college degree, and this initiative ensures that more Texans will benefit from a high-quality UT Austin education. The use of Permanent University Funds to invest directly in students demonstrates the strong commitment of the Board of Regents and UT Austin to the values of public higher education,” Chancellor Milliken said.
The Permanent University Fund includes money from oil and gas royalties earned on state-owned land in West Texas.
UT Austin has the highest academic rankings among public universities in Texas and is consistently recognized as one of the world’s leading research universities, but it has an annual average undergraduate in-state tuition and fees of $10,314, which is less than 12 other Texas public universities, according to data published by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
In 2016, President Fenves committed $7.5 million a year to increase financial aid for middle-income students. In 2018, he added an additional $5 million to that funding and launched the first phase of the Texas Advance Commitment, which 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 through the Texas Advance Commitment during this past academic year, its first year of implementation.
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. The Texas Advance Commitment does not rely on loans or require students to pay back any funds.
This latest support from the regents will allow UT Austin to provide:
- Full tuition coverage to more than 8,600 undergraduates a year from families that earn up to $65,000 a year,
- Assured tuition support to an additional 5,700 students from families that earn up to $125,000 a year.
This commitment to affordability represents a shared partnership among the university, state and federal governments, students and their families to cover the costs of a UT education and maintain the university as one of the best values in Texas and the U.S. In 2018, Kiplinger’s Best Value Colleges ranked UT Austin No. 8 in the nation.