UT announces new tuition assistance endowment

Debanhi Garza said a new tuition assistance program will definitely help her when she attends college next year.

“It will really benefit me because I’m very low income and it will keep the thing of debt out of my mind,” said Debanhi, 17, a senior at the UTRGV Harlingen Collegiate High School.

UTRGV officials met at the school Thursday afternoon to announce the $300 million Promise Plus endowment to assist students at seven University of Texas campuses throughout the state. The endowment will generate $15 million in its first year.

(Courtesy: University of Texas Rio Grande Valley/UTRGV)

“In the first year, UTRGV will get $3.75 million out of the $15 million, which is the largest share of the funding, and it’s because they have the largest number of students from families with financial need,” said UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken.

Harlingen school district Superintendent Alicia Noyola hailed the new initiative.

“I think that the thing I’m so impressed with in being a Valley native is just the opportunities that now exist for all of our students across the Rio Grande Valley,” Noyola said. “They continue to raise the opportunity levels for our students not just for Harlingen but across the Valley.”

The Promise Plus is one of the largest, if not the largest, endowment of its kind in the country, and Harlingen School Board President Gerry Fleuriet understood that significance very well.

“I think it’s one of the most profoundly important programs that’s ever been offered,” she said. “I am thrilled that the University of Texas System has decided to make this investment.”

Harlingen Collegiate seniors also appreciated the new opportunities availed by the endowment.

“It’s really exciting,” said Joshua Garza, 18, who plans to study marketing at UTRGV.

“I think it’s going to help me as well as a lot of other students here in the Valley,” he said.

Fellow senior Joscelin Padron, 18, plans to attend UTRGV and become a teacher. The Promise Plus program will also help her.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for people that have financial problems and don’t want to put a burden on their parents,” she said. “I think a lot of people will benefit from it. I definitely will benefit from it.”

Promise Plus follows another recent program called Tuition Advantage which has covered all tuition costs for students whose adjusted gross family income is less than $100,000. Promise Plus will raise that threshold to $125,000 and pay all tuition to an additional 400 students.