Make academia accessible again

Editorial Board

On Oct. 14, UTSA extended the parameters of its Bold Promise tuition-free program, allowing a larger collective of students from low and middle-income families to access higher education. Beginning in Fall 2022, incoming students will be eligible to reap the financial reward if their family income is $70,000 and below. The Bold Promise program covers the entirety of a first-time freshman’s tuition and fees for four years: as long as they are ranked in the top 25% of their high school class. 

The Bold Promise program will have a significant impact on the future generations of UTSA by diversifying its student body and broadening the range of academic accessibility. The importance of higher education is a fundamental truth threaded within the fabric of our country. From kindergarten to graduation, we’re inundated with curiosities of the future from inquisitive adults—the ten words that begin with casual innocence and transform into the foundation of our adult lives—“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question that haunts us as we progress from childhood to adolescence to adulthood: a question that will define and redefine our identity countless times. 

The commonality connecting each prospective career, of course, is college. Yet, despite the not-so-subtle reinforcement of the doors higher education can open, the keys are limited to the hands of the privileged. Unfortunately, the educational realm is fraught with inequalities. According to the State of Student Aid and Higher Education in Texas, only 21% of jobs are available to those who have not acquired a college degree. Yet, post-recession trends have accelerated a decline in high school graduates immediately enrolling in colleges, negatively impacting future attendance and graduation rates in the process. In addition, economically disadvantaged high school graduates in Texas are significantly less likely to enroll in college. 

In a rapidly evolving economic landscape, an educational foundation can provide the headstart necessary for success in the job market. The age-old notion of “The American Dream”—that one can achieve success with hard work and determination—is nothing more than a façade. For many, “The American Dream” is “The American Nightmare.” Dedication isn’t the key to achieving success. It takes more than diligence, more than ambition, to open doors. Educational institutions must do their part to ensure that academia is accessible again. 

Your socioeconomic status should not be the main contributor to the educational paths available to you. Your wallet shouldn’t determine the value of your education. Higher education shouldn’t be a privilege—higher education should be a right. To ensure that academia is truly inclusive to all, universities must cultivate a realm that prioritizes students of all financial backgrounds. UTSA’s Bold Promise program is a step in the right direction.