UTSA introduces tuition-free program for Fall 2020


Robyn Castro

President Taylor Eighmy presents the Bold Promise program at the Westside Community Center in December 2019. 72% of Bold Promise recipients are first-generation students.

Breahna Luera and Josh Peck

UTSA announced the launch of its Bold Promise program on Thursday, Dec. 12. The Bold Promise initiative is a financial aid program that will waive all tuition and mandatory fees for eligible students. The program will take effect starting in the Fall 2020 semester. 

Students must meet several requirements in order to be eligible for free tuition under the Bold Promise program: Be a Texas resident; be an incoming freshman; rank in the top 25% of their graduating class; have a family income of $50,500 or lower; and fill out a 2020/2021 Free Application for Federal Student Aid/Texas Application for State Financial Aid form by Jan. 15. Once students are in the Bold Promise program, they must be enrolled full time — 12 semester credit hours — and maintain a 2.5 GPA.

UTSA joins many other UT System institutions that have adopted a tuition-free program that considers family income. 

“We’re aware that many institutions here in Texas have adopted these plans, and I will share that our Board of Regents is very interested in all of the institutions within the UT System adopting this type of strategy,” President Taylor Eighmy said. 

One of the differences between the plan being adopted at UTSA and the programs that other UT System schools have adopted is the high school ranking component of the Bold Promise program, which requires students to rank in the top 25% of their graduating class in order to be eligible.

“There are some [other tuition-free programs] that have an academic requirement, some that don’t,” Senior Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Lynn Barnes said. “For us, a lot of efforts are focused on improving the quality of our students and our academic quality at the university.”

Barnes also said that UTSA estimates that a large portion of the 2020 freshman class will benefit from the Bold Promise.

“Out of our freshman class, [approximately] 75% of students are going to qualify for [the Bold Promise program].”

The Bold Promise program is financially supported by government sources as well as already existing institutional funds.  

“So, we use a variety of institutional sources; it’s a combination of the federal government, our state and our institutional funds,” Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Espy said. “Each family’s profile is somewhat different with respect to how an individual would qualify, but we stack those up in order to make sure that we’re covering the tuition and fees for those who are in the program.”

The Bold Promise initiative is the only tuition-free financial aid program at UTSA, but Eighmy indicated that additional programs are in the works that will impact college students across the entire San Antonio area. 

“We are working very closely with [Chancellor of the Alamo Colleges District] Mike Flores and his team … and we expect to announce something shortly about what we’re going to try to do with Alamo Colleges District. The notion of being able to come to UTSA under this program for four years or to be able to transfer in after having been under the Alamo Promise at Alamo Colleges District is a very elegant thing indeed,” Eighmy said. 

State Senator José Menéndez attended the announcement and commended the UTSA leadership on the launch of the program. 

“This Bold Promise, in my opinion, sends a very clear message to many families. It sends a message that UTSA cares; they care, and they will do everything they can to ensure that our families succeed — provided they meet those qualification standards.” Menéndez said. 

The De Leon-Uribe family will be one of the first families impacted by this program. Adrian and Jennifer Uribe, twins and seniors at Lanier High School, have been accepted into UTSA and are eligible for the Bold Promise program. 

“UTSA has an excellent engineering program which I desire to be a part of to major in civil engineering,” A. Uribe said. “My ultimate goal is to establish my own engineering firm here in San Antonio. The Bold Promise program could help make this dream come true for my family and me.”