In a bid to make college more accessible to students from middle- and low-income families, the University of Texas at Austin pledged Tuesday to offer full scholarships to undergraduates from families making $65,000 or less annually as well as some assured financial support for students from families making up to $125,000.
Led by Chairman Kevin Eltife and Chancellor James B. Milliken, The University of Texas System Board of Regents announced in a release that they voted unanimously to establish a $160 million endowment from a distribution of the state’s Permanent University Fund that will generate money for financial assistance starting 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.”
“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 added.
In their announcement, the university which has the highest academic rankings among public universities in Texas and is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading research universities, noted that median household income in the state was $59,206 in 2017.
Full tuition coverage from by the university is expected to benefit more than 8,600 undergraduates a year from families that earn up to $65,000, while assured tuition support will cover an additional 5,700 students from families that earn up to $125,000 annually.
“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,” UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves said. “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 Permanent University Fund which was codified in the Texas Constitution in 1876, includes money from oil and gas royalties earned on 2.1 million acres of state-owned land in West Texas.
It is due to these royalties, according to Bloomberg that the University of Texas recently saw the value of its endowment soar to $31 billion, surpassing Yale to become the second-largest endowment in U.S. higher education. The state system shares the mineral rights revenue from the land with Texas A&M University, which saw its endowment value soar to $13.5 billion.