As part of an ongoing initiative to significantly increase four-year graduation rates, UT will commit $5 million to new financial aid programs, including one which provides loan forgiveness or a salary to students who undergo academic preparation programs or leadership training.
The $5 million will be divided among four programs, including the Freshmen On-track Program, which will reward certain freshmen who achieve a minimum GPA with one-time $1,000 scholarships, and the Summer Bridging Program, which will support new students in part by replacing lost summer Pell Grant scholarships.
The largest of the four initiatives is the “Job Success Program,” which will receive half of the total money allocated. The program will provide eligible students the chance to earn up to $20,000 over four years if they spend a certain number of hours each week fulfilling an assigned activity like on-campus service or specific leadership training.
David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said the job success program will operate somewhat like a work-study program.
“This isn’t that much different than a student working off campus or student work study,” Laude said, “but in this particular case, participants getting paid to make the right decisions about their academic behaviors.”
Laude said he anticipates that one of the greatest challenges he will face regarding the program will be spreading awareness about aid availability.
“Students who financially supported themselves during high school didn’t go to their principals looking for jobs, so it might not occur to them to turn to on-campus resources now,” Laude said.
The programs will be funded by one-time university discretionary financial aid, and if it is considered a success, the university will look to other sources of discretionary scholarship money to continue offering similar incentives.