A $40 million donation earmarked for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will have a significant impact on students — potentially allowing them to avoid college debt, the school’s president said.
UTRGV announced last week the university was selected by philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett to receive a $40 million donation that will provide scholarships for students.
UTRGV President Guy Bailey, PhD, said school administrators were very excited when they received the news because they have been looking for additional funding to offer scholarships to students. A lot of them get Pell grants and Texas grants, but there are not a lot of scholarships available.
“The idea of having a lot of scholarship money for our students, who maybe don’t qualify for a full Pell grant or for other things, is very exciting for us. This is kind of the fulfillment of our dream as an institution,” he said.
The university aims to make college affordable for everyone and it’s already an institution where students graduate with the lowest student debt in the whole country, he said. This new scholarship money will fund their undergraduate degree and higher education.
“Let’s say you stay at UTRGV and go all the way to medical school. Maybe you don’t have a scholarship to get you through medical school,” he said. “What we want to do is provide scholarship monies that help people go all the way through their undergraduate program [and] through their professional program without incurring debt.”
Bailey said the university does a pretty good job right now helping undergraduates graduate without debt due to the Texas and Pell grants, however professional students don’t qualify for that help.
“We want for our professional students, as well as our undergraduate students, to graduate with as little debt as possible,” he said. “That’s really what this is all about, helping us reduce that even more.”
Bailey hopes this donation will put UTRGV on the map for other foundations and the university is already using it to leverage additional scholarship money.
“We are writing a proposal right now, I can’t mention other foundations, but we are currently writing a proposal to get additional scholarship money,” he said.
More information and guidelines for the scholarships will be made public within the next month.
“It is absolutely key for our students to understand that the benefits of a college degree are enormous,” he said. “They’re lifelong and they’re transformative and they’re multi-generational.”