EDINBURG, RGV – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley unveiled their latest effort to help low-income students on Monday.

At a press conference, UTRGV President Guy Bailey announced the inception of UTRGV Tuition Advantage, a new grant program that will cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying individuals with a family adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less. 

Launching in the fall of 2020, Bailey estimates more than half of the university’s students – about 18,000 people – will be eligible for free tuition through the initiative, having “the largest impact” out of all the institution’s measures up to this point.

“This program … is the most expansive free tuition program in the state of Texas,” said Bailey. “We have the highest income ceiling, and we cover more than any other program. This is available to all in-state undergraduate students, including incoming freshman, returning students … and transfer students.”

State senators Eddie Lucio Jr. and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, who helped secure funding for the program, also spoke at the event. Both alumni of legacy campus Pan American University, they reflected on the university’s growth and its crucial role in the community. 

“I’m pleased to report that since its foundation in 2013 the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has made good on that promise to offer exceptional educational programs to a student population hungry and eager for opportunities,” said Lucio.

“However, having a world-class university in our backyard means little to those for whom the cost of attendance represents a barrier to realizing their dreams. …With today’s announcement, we take a bold step, yet, toward realizing the goal of providing true access for all students of the Rio Grande Valley.”

Sen. Hinojosa continued the remarks, highlighting the relationship between an education and upward mobility.

“Education is the best equalizer we have in our society,” said Hinojosa. “…We’ve come a long way, and we still have a long way to go, but this program of free tuition and books and fees for a family that makes $75,000 or less is really, really a big deal.”

While many will benefit for UTRGV’s Tuition Advantage, Bailey says the university will also extend reduced tuition to qualifying individuals from families making between $75,000 and $100,000. He says its all part of UTRGV’s goal of providing the best educational value for its students. 

“Basically, if you come from a working-class or middle-class family, you can come here and get a great education without mortgaging your future.”

For more information about UTRGV’s Tuition Advantage and it’s eligibility requirements, you can check out the website here.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story and the photos in the slideshow were taken by Patricia Martinez.