EDINBURG, RGV – State Sen. Juan Hinojosa spoke at UT-Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg on Monday, as part of a major announcement on tuition fees.

UTRGV says that from 2020, students from families earning $75,000 or less will not have have to pay tuition fees. UTRGV President Guy Bailey predicted UTRGV Tuition Advantage would be a “game changer” for the Valley.

In his remarks, Hinojosa said students have been “drowning in debt.”

In an interview afterwards, Hinojosa told the Rio Grande Guardian and Ron Whitlock Reports:

“The debt our students are carrying upon graduation can cripple them financially for the rest of their lives. The interest rates they have to pay to private servers is just outrageous. We have to find ways to make college affordable to the majority of our students. Families have to struggle to make ends meet.

“So, this program today in providing free tuition and books and fees for families who make $75,000 a year and under, that is a big step in that direction. Making higher education accessible, making it affordable and trying to eliminate the student debt our students can ill afford.”

Rio Grande Valley media personality Ron Whitlock and state Sen. Juan Hinojosa are both graduates of one of UTRGV’s legacy institutions, Pan American University.

Hinojosa said he gets “very nostalgic” whenever he goes back to UTRGV. The McAllen lawmaker graduated from one of UTRGV’s legacy schools, Pan American University, in 1970.

As in the past, Hinojosa said education is the best equalizer society has created. He pointed out that this past legislative session, state lawmakers added $80 million to the Texas Grant Program. This program provides financial aid assistance to enable eligible students to attend public institutions of higher education in Texas.

Game Changer

UTRGV President Guy Bailey speaks at the college’s performing arts center in Edinburg on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019.

The UTRGV news conference was held at the college’s performing are center in Edinburg. In his remarks, President Bailey predicted UTRGV Tuition Advantage will become recognized as the most expansive free-tuition program among public institutions in the state of Texas.

Overall, UTRGV estimates more than half of its undergraduate students will attend the university during the 2020-2021 academic year without paying tuition and mandatory fees.

Bailey said that beginning Fall 2020, the new UTRGV Tuition Advantage will cover the costs of tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying students who have an adjusted gross family income of $75,000 or less.

“The UTRGV Tuition Advantage will be a game-changer for higher education in Texas,” Bailey said. “At UTRGV, you can obtain a high-quality education without mortgaging your future. I truly believe we are the best value in Texas higher education.”

UT Board of Regents Chairman Kevin P. Eltife said the UTRGV Tuition Advantage is open to all in-state undergraduate students, including incoming freshmen and returning and transfer students, who meet the program’s requirements.

“The ability to pay for college should not be a determining factor in who attends a UT institution,” Eltife said. “The regents are committed to minimizing financial barriers, and we are exceptionally pleased with UTRGV’s new tuition assistance program and the impact it will have on making access and affordability much easier for students and their families.”

UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said: “The UT System is committed to increasing access and student success at all of our institutions, and we applaud UTRGV for launching this extraordinary program to make a high-quality college education more accessible and affordable for all.” 

In a news release, UTRGV said it has recently has been recognized nationally for its unmatched value. “Money magazine ranked UTRGV the third-best public university in Texas (behind Texas A&M University and University of Texas at Austin, respectively) based on quality of education, affordability and outcomes. In the recent Washington Monthly college rankings, UTRGV was the highest-ranked public university for value nationwide and a Top 20 Master’s University,” the news release stated.

More information on UTRGV Tuition Advantage, including program requirements, is available here.