UT plans to create tuition-free program for families making less than $50,000

UT Interim President Randy Boyd gives the State of the University Address at the Nashville Public Library. (Photo credit: University of Tennessee)

Interim University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd is introducing a free tuition program for students from households earning less than $50,000 per year, which is just above federal poverty guidelines for a family of four.

Students must qualify for lottery scholarships to be eligible for the program. The initiative seeks to emulate the popular Tennessee Promise scholarships for community college students, though that program doesn’t set income limits or academic requirements.

Here’s the full release from the University of Tennessee:

NASHVILLE – University of Tennessee Interim President Randy Boyd has announced the creation of “UT Promise,” a financial aid program that will provide free tuition to qualifying Tennessee residents enrolling at University of Tennessee campuses located in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin. 

The announcement was made at the annual State of UT Address held at the Nashville Public Library.

“It is critically important that we take a lead role in ensuring students can achieve their dream of obtaining an undergraduate college degree,” Boyd said. “It is our mission and responsibility to do everything  we can to ease the financial burden for our middle- and working-class families, and UT Promise is an ideal conduit to achieve that.”

UT Promise is a last-dollar scholarship program that will guarantee free tuition and fees for students with a family household income of under $50,000 and after other financial aid is received (such as Pell Grants, HOPE Scholarship, or other institutional scholarships).  Students must qualify for the Hope Scholarship and meet the academic qualifications for the institution to be eligible for this new scholarship. To help ensure success, students will be matched with volunteer mentors and will complete four hours of service learning each semester.  

UT Promise will welcome its first class in the fall of 2020, and the scholarship program will include those students who were previously enrolled in college when the program begins in 2020.  Qualifying Tennessee residents who meet the criteria for UT Promise can transfer from any institution. UT Promise is an expansion of scholarship offerings and does not replace existing scholarships.

The University of Tennessee Foundation will simultaneously launch the UT Promise Endowment campaign to help fund this initiative.  In the interim, the University will cover the cost.

“This endowment will allow this to truly be a promise and guarantee for years to come,” Boyd said.

Currently, 46 percent of UT students graduate without debt.  The goal of UT Promise is to make higher education more accessible and affordable for Tennessee students.

UT Promise will be another tool in the state’s Drive to 55 workforce development initiative, which aims to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025.

21 Responses to UT plans to create tuition-free program for families making less than $50,000

  • James White says:

    More of our Tax money being GIVING away by other people. I guess President Boyd thinks that he is the reincarnation of President Johnson. “We are going to try to take all of the money that we think is unnecessarily being spent and take it from the ‘haves’ and give it to the ‘have nots’ that need it so much.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson, a speech at the White House on January 14, 1964.

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    So much for surpluses in TN. This is the kind of gross overspending that leads to catastrophic budget disasters when the Sheriff finally rides into town. It’s also unfair, if there is such a thing as fair. Maybe we can start direct, cash payments to illegals to go to college? It would be a more efficient way to sink the ship.

  • Cannoneer2 says:

    Yeah! That’s perfectly good money that could be used for Corporate Welfare!

  • MarLE says:

    Scholarship will be given to students who “Meet the Academic Qualifications of the Institution”. So to get the scholarship you must be make under 50K (regardless of WHY you have a family income at that level) AND you must be at least as bright as the dumbest athlete or legacy admit. Oh, boy!!!!

  • Perry Aubric says:

    Colleges give scholarships all the time. That’s what endowments and scholarship programs are for. They are designed to help people of specific merit or need to go to school. The only difference here that an in existing scholarship programs us the income standard. Any study will tell you that a college graduate will contribute more in taxes and other benefits to the community than a non-college graduate. Why this right wing hate toward the idea of a scholarship for poorer students? Should being poor be a never-broken cycle? Should only the wealthy, like Lori Loughlin’s vapid daughters, be able to get into a good college like UT? I guarantee that whoever gets these scholarships, which will actually be merit based, will be more deserving academically than Loughlin’s kids, some trust fund legacy, or the average athlete.

    • MarLE says:

      Taxpayers should subsidize the tuition for those who 1) finish a 4-yr program, not attend a 4-yr school and 2) live in the state that subsidized their education. Those without a degree do NOT do appreciably better. Let the student borrow the money and then get reimbursed if both conditions apply. In the meantime let endowment, not confiscated, dollars support those who need “extra” financial aid above the large per-student subsidy already in play at state-supported colleges and universities.

      • James White says:

        MarLE “Taxpayers should subsidize the tuition for those who” NONE !

        • MarLE says:

          We already do subsidize tuition. And if Free Taxpayer supported 1-12 education make sense in 1940, why is it so unreasonable that an additional 2 yrs be added in the 21st Century? BUT…it doesn’t have to be delivered on 4 year campuses. And it doesn’t have to be delivered by professors who make 150+K per year. Any student wanting to get a college education can do so for the first 2 years in their pajamas, in their lounge chair, in their living room with a lap top for nearly nothing IF getting an education was the POINT. And that should not be a problem for taxpayers in the 21st Century to provide.

    • FuzzyBagels says:

      Perry Aubric, Is fiscal responsibility and concern for it limited to right wingers? And, have we really gotten to the point that fiscal responsibility is considered a form of hate?

      Also, are you suggesting that this right wing hate group thinks what Lori Loughlin et al did was in any way acceptable?

      If the answer to any or all of these questions is yes, it’s no wonder we can no longer have civil discussions in this country.

      • Donna Locke says:

        Yes, not only fiscal responsibility but also logic, common sense, law enforcement, boundaries of any kind, and a different opinion are considered “hate” now. I learned 20 years ago to stop listening and reading at the moment someone says the word “racist,” because I know at that point I am listening to/reading something unintelligent, propagandistic, and not worth my time. I add “white nationalism” and ” white supremacy” to that now. I’ve seen actual racism from various ethnic quarters and know what it is.

  • FuzzyBagels says:

    Indeed, Randy Boyd is quite an enigma. During his gubernatorial campaign, he told of his accelerated path through college – that he paid for himself – once he learned doing so could save him lots of money. Yet, he wants to take that excellent learning experience away from other college students. Since he ended up a MULTI-millionaire through more hard work and a good business model, it’s hard to imagine it did him much harm. Perhaps a better education for young people would be for Boyd to mentor them on how he did it.

    • MarLE says:

      Education in the 21st C should be able to be delivered to anyone for next to nothing. It is the Entrenched higher education system that keeps costs elevated as a full-employment initiative for the 100’s of thousands of PhD’s who otherwise would be unemployed. And Randy Boyd knows this.

    • Donna Locke says:

      Boyd had some help by working in his father’s company, but he did a lot on his own, no doubt. He had some advantages, though, because of the family he was in.

      • MarLE says:

        Many who had the Family advantages of Boyd nevertheless lived lives of shiftlessness and non- productivity that would embarrass a leech.

    • Cannoneer2 says:

      Outsource to China.

  • Eddie White says:

    The University of Tennessee Foundation will simultaneously launch the UT Promise Endowment campaign to help fund this initiative. In the interim, the University will cover the cost.

    It looks like the plan is to fund this new scholarship through private funding which is what the UT Foundation is. I think that is the way to go. I think the idea is worthy, but fund it through private fundraising.

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