EDINBURG — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley announced Friday that it would be increasing its Tuition Advantage program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects.
Beginning this fall, UTRGV will now cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees for qualified students with a family of $95,000 or less; the threshold for the program was previously set at $75,000 or less.
UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the decision to change the threshold was made to counter the economic aftershocks of the coronavirus.
“This is going to create significant hardships for families across the Valley and everywhere in the country,” he said. “We began looking at our own finances and asking ourselves what we could do to possibly help kids continue on in school, especially at a time the economy’s crashing. It’s as simple as that. You see the numbers every day.”
According to Bailey, UTRGV should be able to keep the program at the $95,000 threshold for the duration of the crisis.
“I think we can do this for a while. We’ve looked very carefully, and we operate on a relatively thin margin for a university, but we think we can do this. Our first commitment is to provide educational opportunities for students, to help them graduate with minimal debt, so if that’s your first priority, that’s what you have to focus on,” he said
Bailey said that candidates for the program are subject to other criteria in addition to the financial cap.
“You’ve got to be a Texas resident and you have to meet a few other criteria, you can assess those online,” he said.
Bailey also said the change was the university’s way of doing what it could for the community in an unstable time.
“We want to help families through what we think will be a very difficult time. Our commitment to our students is to try to help them get through as much as possible with the lowest amount of debt, so that’s how we’re trying to do this,” he said. The decision to try to move this up and cover more families came in direct response to what we saw happening to the economy. It’s our way of doing what we can to help people.”