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The Maverick Promise

Program guarantees free tuition for certain undergraduate Texas residents

Texas faces a crisis of education and economics, says official state demographer Steve Murdock of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

“We are living what the nation will be living in 2030 or 2040,” he says, “and the future of Texas is tied to how we treat our non-Anglo population.”

Dr. Murdock’s studies show that in the next decade 600,000 mostly Hispanic students will enter the state’s education system. Surveys on higher education find that most non-Anglo students do not go to college because they believe they can’t afford it.

If this trend continues, Murdock says the average income for all Texas households will decline by more than $6,500 from 2000 to 2040. The number of families earning $25,000 or less will increase from 30.7 percent to 38 percent and continue to rise each year.

“Texas will be poorer in the future,” he says. “The education of these students is vital to our state’s economic future.”

In January, UT Arlington announced the Maverick Promise as a way to close the education gap and stop this trend. The financial aid package guarantees free tuition for undergraduate Texas residents with a family income of $25,000 or less.

“The Maverick Promise sends a message to many students and their families that there is money available for college and that higher education can be affordable,” said UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo.

The Maverick Promise applies to students taking six semester hours or more, independent and dependent students, new and old students alike, including transfers, who receive a Federal Pell Grant and who are admitted and complete the financial aid application process. The University will pay the difference between the Pell award and total in-state tuition and mandatory fees.

New freshmen who meet the guidelines and maintain eligibility will receive Maverick Promise funding for up to five years. New transfers who meet the guidelines and maintain eligibility will receive funding for three years. Currently enrolled students who meet the guidelines will receive Maverick Promise funding for a prorated period based on their current class standing, not to exceed four years.

Students may be eligible for additional funds through loans or the Federal Work-Study program to cover other educational expenses such as textbooks and room and board.

While UT Arlington can only guarantee grant assistance under the Maverick Promise, students whose family income exceeds $25,000 are still eligible for many other financial assistance programs. Right now, 52 percent of full-time undergraduates, 58 percent of new, full-time freshmen and 33 percent of part-time undergraduate students receive some form of need-based award.

In addition to the Federal Pell Grant, the Maverick Promise is funded by the tuition “set-aside” established by the Texas Legislature.

“The Legislature made an excellent decision when, as part of tuition deregulation, it set aside 20 percent of tuition increases to be used for financial aid,” Spaniolo said. “Without those funds, the Maverick Promise would be difficult, if not impossible.”

Other funding sources for the Maverick Promise include the Texas Public Education Grant (TPEG), the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), the National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART) and the Texas Grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG).

“It has long been a part of UT Arlington’s mission to reach out to first-generation college students,” Provost Dana Dunn said. “And this program continues that tradition.”

Online: www.uta.edu/maverickpromise

— Bob Wright

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(Winter 2004 to present)

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