UT Promise Plus reduces tuition fee for students

Kristen Scheaffer, Staff Reporter

The UT System Board of Regents created a $300 million endowment as a means to reduce the cost of higher education for undergraduates at seven UT institutions, including UTEP.

The UT system and UTEP leaders along with elected officials met with the community and UTEP students to announce details behind the Promise Plus program.

The Promise Plus program is a means to provide tuition assistance to qualifying students among the seven UT schools: UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT El Paso, UT Permian Basin, UT Rio Grande Valley, UT San Antonio, and UT Tyler. The funding came from several investments coming in from UT system financial officers where their returns produced more than anticipated in the previous fiscal year. This led to the Board of Regents approving the endowment, according the University of Texas System.

During the announcement, UTEP was met by their own President Heather Wilson, along with El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, UT System Chancellor James Milliken,  and Texas Sen. Cesar Blanco, who is a UTEP alumnus.

“I know firsthand the endless opportunities that this institution brings to our careers and to our community. And I see myself in you all that are sitting here in t-shirts, the students that are here because I was one of those kids sitting at the Union,” Blanco said.

UTEP is currently recognized as a Tier 1 (R1) Research University that was recognized by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as well as one out of 19 Hispanic-Serving institutions to be recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With this newly founded endowment, opportunities will be open to more students across campus.

UTEP’s current tuition program, Paydirt Promise, covers tuition costs for students whose families make less than $60,000 gross incomes. The endowment, which will be distributed annually, is expected to produce about $2.5 million in the first year (about $15 million between the seven institutions, a minimum of $1 million depending on the number of students with financial need). This will raise the family’s threshold to $75,000, according to UTEP’s Division of Marketing and Communications

The endowment is expected to grow with time. Those eligible for the funds must be full-time undergraduate students. They must be Texas residents and already applied and qualified for need-based aid through FAFSA, according to the University of Texas System.

“Our mission here is to increase access to excellent education,” said Wilson.

UTEP is unique due to its region, according to Wilson. UTEP brings the communities of west Texas, southern New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez together with one goal shared: a higher education.

“It truly is a momentous occasion, not just for the various institutions that the program is going to benefit and the students, but specifically, here in El Paso. Here at UTEP, because it’s going to impact generations of miners and future miners,” Blanco said.

Kristen Scheaffer is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]