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Home | Tag Archives: university of texas

Tag Archives: university of texas

University of Texas’ poorest incoming freshmen to receive $20,000, laptops and more starting this fall

Beginning next fall, the neediest freshmen at the University of Texas will get a boost of $20,000 in financial aid to cover their long list of college living expenses — thanks to a $100 million gift from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

The gift is one of the largest in the nation that directly supports Pell Grant recipients, according to higher education experts.

The Dell Foundation, long a proponent of low-income student success, announced Friday that for the next 10 years, every incoming UT freshman who qualifies for the Pell Grant will have access to “personalized services” including a new laptop, tutoring, career and internship planning, and financial aid coaching. The Pell Grant is a federally funded, need-based grant.

The $20,000 checks will go to those Pell Grant recipients with the most serious financial needs — a calculation that will be based on “expected family contributions” of less than $1,000.

Janet Mountain, executive director of the Dell Foundation, said there will be an estimated 2,000 Pell-eligible students arriving at UT this fall, all of whom will have access to the personalized services. How many of them will receive the extra funds is still unknown, however. There is no application process; the university and the foundation will identify eligible students at orientation.

“Not just making it to college but making it through college has always been a significant part of this foundation,” Mountain said. “The overall mission is to accelerate opportunities for children growing up in urban poverty.”

The announcement follows the university’s recent effort to expand free tuition to more low-income students. In July, the university raised the family income limit necessary for free tuition from $30,000 to $65,000, aligning its policies with other Texas universities, like Texas A&M. The Dell Foundation, learning of UT’s decision, was inspired to further contribute to Longhorns with financial hardships.

For this academic year, the average cost of attendance at UT is more than $28,000 for in-state students, covering tuition, housing and other expenses like transportation and textbooks. The Pell Grant, which varies annually, awarded a maximum amount of $6,195.

More than 9,000 UT students were Pell recipients in 2017, according to the most recent financial aid data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

University expenses can be major deterrents to graduation rates. Typically, only 20% of low-income students in the country graduate from college in six years or less, Mountain said. At UT, the graduation rate for low-income students is 73%, but the university and the Dell Foundation are trying to push that rate to 90%.

UT student Alyssa Garza, 20, is an aspiring aerospace engineer from Mission. With the help of the Pell Grant, the university’s hefty $40,000 Impact Scholarship and another $40,000 scholarship from the Cockrell School of Engineering, UT didn’t feel like a pipe dream, Garza said.

But even with enough financial aid to cover tuition and housing, day-to-day living can be a struggle, she said. Garza said a campus parking spot over the summer cost her hundreds of dollars, and the $20 to fill up her gas tank biweekly is sometimes hard to spare.

Right now, Garza said, she has $50 to last her two weeks, making social activities like eating out or going to a movie nearly impossible. A study abroad program she wants to attend this summer to fulfill class requirements costs thousands of dollars she doesn’t have. An extra $20,000 for life expenses “would have helped substantially,” she said, though as a sophomore, Garza won’t be eligible for the program.

“Just because I have school paid for doesn’t mean I have money,” Garza said. “I still have to think about upcoming purchases, find the cheapest option. It’s not as luxurious as people think it is.”

Dell’s menu of other support services to the Pell-eligible students will include mental health counseling, financial literacy assistance, career planning, child care, tutoring and textbook support. These programs will build on existing UT resources and personnel but will ultimately be a separate team comprising about 15 people, fully dedicated to each Pell student on campus.

Students can use that team as a go-to for any crisis, academic or otherwise. They will also have access to emergency funds, kept on hand by the program.

“I think people would be surprised to know how often that final straw is something as simple as your car is broken down and you need $250 to get it fixed and you just don’t have the money,” Mountain said. “The idea of emergency funds is that when [students] come and say, ‘Oh my word, I have a crisis today’ … we have the ability to flexibly meet that need.”

The university has committed to raising funds to maintain the program after 10 years are up, and Mountain said the foundation is looking into an endowment to help keep it going.

“We have a long-term plan about improving the success of our students,” UT President Greg Fenves said. “It’s very ambitious, but we’re excited about doing this.”

The Austin-based Dell Foundation has its own college scholarship program and has serviced more than 4,800 students to date. Started nearly two decades ago, the foundation has a long history of combining cash with counseling — a “proven model,” Mountain said.

The foundation serves as the charitable arm of the computer company Dell Inc., started by UT graduate Michael Dell in 1984. Its charitable ventures extend around the world and focus largely on combating poverty through education.

Higher education experts said the Dell gift targeting low-income students may mark a turning point in how colleges approach financial aid assistance.

Alumni often donate large amounts to their alma maters with no restrictions attached, said Jonathan Fansmith, a director for the American Council on Education. Those institutions typically use the funds to subsidize the cost of supporting low-income students.

“There may be other gifts of this size, but the specificity of targeting Pell Grant recipients … it’s impressive,” Fansmith said.

Author: RAGA JUSTIN – The Texas Tribune

Disclosure: Dell, the University of Texas and Texas A&M University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

KTSM to Broadcast, Stream Friday’s Texas Gubernatorial Debate

KTSM TV, and their parent company Nexstar Media Group, announced Monday that they will host the only Texas gubernatorial debate between incumbent Governor Greg Abbott (R) and former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D).

The broadcast/stream is set for Friday, September 28, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. MT.

The one-hour, statewide debate will air state-wide on Nexstar stations, in addition to broadcast partners, and select Telemundo stations and all radio stations in the state.

The debate will be held in Austin at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas. The debate will be moderated by Robert Hadlock of KXAN News in Austin. He will be joined by a panel of  local news anchors and journalists from across the state who will deliver questions to the candidates, including Julie Fine of KXAS NBC 5 news, Andy Cerota of KPRC 2 news, Steve Spriester of KSAT 12 news and Norma Garcia of Telemundo 39.

The questions will be focused on topical local/regional issues impacting communities across Texas and candidate-specific subjects.

Local viewers may access a live-stream of the debate online by visiting KTSM’s website.

Study Examines Effect of Funding Cuts on Texas Schools, Students

AUSTIN  – Funding cuts by state lawmakers left a five-year, $5 billion hole in the budget for Texas public schools between 2011 and 2016.

A new University of Texas study analyzes the effect of those cuts, made because of state revenue shortfalls, which forced many districts to operate with less money despite a growing number of students.

Michael Marder, a professor and co-author of the study at the UTeach Institute at UT, says although state spending is beginning to rebound, there is still a need to deal with the problems caused by the cuts.

“Even if funding returns to previous levels, a five-year period where it was underfunded leaves not just a five-year hole in the budget but a five-year hole in what students learned,” he stresses. “So, they are going to be coming to the system having learned less than they might have otherwise.”

Marder says during that five-year period, the report shows that many districts were forced to cut class size, hire fewer teachers and limit non-core programs such as art, music and computer science.

He says properly funded school districts are better able to attract and retain high quality teachers and provide a wider variety of courses.

Marder points out the research shows that as the state begins to restore funding, the money is not always returned to the same programs to serve the same students.

“Accelerated instruction, which is for students who are struggling and need extra help, went down, particularly in schools with a lot of low-income students,” he explains. “Funding in the schools serving the lowest income students for bilingual education went down by as much as 40 percent.”

Marder says restoring the funding does not always deal with the problems created by the five-year “funding hole.”

“The neediest students may still not be receiving the same level of support they did previously, and I think this is a matter of concern to every citizen of Texas who cares about fellow citizens and the future of the state,” he states.

Marder says the study is the first of its kind to analyze the academic and practical effects of budget cuts on students in Texas school districts.

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

Report: UT System Grads Get Better Jobs, Make More Money

AUSTIN – Graduates from University of Texas System schools, on average, do better in their careers than students with degrees from other colleges – not just in Texas but across the nation, according to a joint study out today from Georgetown University and the University of Texas.

The study also found that students’ choice of major affects both their ability to get a job and future earnings, and said this especially is true for students from low-income families.

Lead report author Anthony Carnevale, who heads the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, said attending a top-tier school in Texas gives students a leg up on their career track.

“While it is true that the more education you get, the better you do – that’s kind of ‘Rule Number 1’ in the college and jobs game – it’s also true that what you make depends on what you take,” he said. “Just going is not the whole game.”

Carnevale said the study found that the UT System’s selective-admissions colleges spend more than double the amount of money per student on academic and instructional support than do open-admissions schools in Texas. UT System officials say they plan to use the study results to provide better academic and career guidance for students.

Carnevale said the study found that a UT System degree increases the chance of finding a job upon graduation, but a student’s course of study also affects his or her starting salary.

“So, if you major in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), business or health care, you make money and you’re likely to get a job,” he said. “If you major in education, you’re very likely to get a job but you won’t make much money.”

The study also found that economically disadvantaged students who graduate from UT System schools do considerably better than students attending other colleges on Pell grants.

“It looks like the penalty is minimized,” Carnevale said. “That is, disadvantaged students who get into the UT system, especially at Austin and Dallas, do much better than other Pell grant students outside the UT system.”

Other findings in the study included a significant wage gap between white and Latino graduates based on the number of Latinos who take jobs outside their degree field, and that women initially out-earn male graduates with similar jobs, but eventually their salaries fall behind men.

The report is online at

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

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