Laura Lyles Reagan
Special to the PRESS
On September 16, 2019, serendipitously Mexican Independence Day, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) announced the UTRGV Tuition Advantage Program, which may foster financial independence for Port Isabel ISD students and families. It is the most expansive free-tuition program among public institutions in the state of Texas.
Beginning Fall 2020, the new UTRGV Tuition Advantage Program will cover the costs of tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying students who have an adjusted gross family income of $75,000 or less provided the students take at least 15 hours each semester.
UTRGV projects approximately 18,550 students will be eligible to participate in the program, says Dara Newton, Vice President for Strategic Enrollment. The program will serve undergraduates which includes entering freshman, transfer or returning students. Non-traditional students, such as legacy students who went to UTB or UTPA but did not finish their degree are included in the category of returning students.
UTRGV estimates more than half of its undergraduate students will attend the university during the 2020-2021 academic year without paying tuition and mandatory fees. The program is intended to fill the gaps in uncovered tuition and fees from Federal Pell and Texas grants or scholarships.
Newton states, “UTRGV is committed to help build strong career-oriented alumni that don’t have to worry about debt at the end of their four-year degree.”
UTRGV is already working with Port Isabel High School students through the UTRGV outreach representatives on campus. They conduct college fairs and parent information seminars to assist families in planning for college. They also work directly with Port Isabel students on college admissions, financial aid and scholarships, and assist with transferring students if students attend TSC first before transferring to UTRGV. Now, UTRGV outreach representatives are armed with an additional tool to eliminate barriers to college entrance, the UTRGV Tuition Advantage Program.
“Eighty-six percent of our district is economically disadvantaged,” Port Isabel ISD Superintendent Theresa Alarcon said. “Education can have a huge positive impact on the lives of students and families in our community. It is the great equalizer. Without a doubt within two years the landscape of our district and surrounding area will change for the better because of the UTRGV Tuition Advantage Program.”
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