MCALLEN, Texas – The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents announced on Monday the creation of a $100-million scholarship fund aimed at first-generation and low-income students. The newly inaugurated Regents’ Scholarship hopes to address “diversity issues” and to quell the financial hardship and worry of students during the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19.

“Historic challenges call for historic action,” said TAMU System Board of Regents Chairwoman Elaine Mendoza. “Given the economic impact families are enduring across the state, it is imperative that we act now before the fall semester begins. Our board’s strategic plan articulates clearly our commitment to ensuring our institutions serve a diverse student body. By doing this now, our administration has another tool to support Texans and enable them to pursue their education.”

The scholarship will pay out $10 million annually over the next 10 years. Students whose parents have not completed a bachelor’s degree and with a family adjusted gross income of less than $40,000 a year are eligible to apply. The scholarship will be granted to approximately 850 students each year on a first-come, first-served basis and will award up to $6,000 per year for up to four years. 

TAMU System Chancellor John Sharp said that the scholarship program had “been in the works for years” and follows part of its Board of Regents’ System Strategic Plan to provide a high-quality education to Texans, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

“Too often we are getting outbid for great kids by out-of-state schools that can make larger offers,” said Sharp. “We don’t intend to lose those underrepresented students to them without a real serious fight.”

Sharp added that the goal of the Regents’ Scholarship is to have the TAMU System reflect the demographics of the state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Texas’s largest ethnic and racial groups are broken down as 41.5% white; 39.6% Hispanic or Latino; 12.8% black or African-American; and 5.2% Asian. Comparatively, TAMU’s demographic breakdown for its 2019 fall semester was as follows: 54.7% white; 21.9% Hispanic or Latino; 3.3% black or African-American; and 8.1% Asian. 

A TAMU press release states that system-wide the campuses are “a few percentage points away” from matching the state’s figures, with some of the 11 universities skewing the data. The Regents’ Scholarship hopes to diminish these outliers for a more diverse and representative student body in the near future.

For more information on the Regents’ Scholarship, please visit its website.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows the chancellor of Texas A&M University System, John Sharp, speaking at a Rio Grande Valley Partnership luncheon on South Padre Island on February 25, 2020. (Photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)

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