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PRESIDENT’S COLUMN: Expanding UT Promise: Investing in Tennessee’s Future

More than two-thirds of Tennessee’s high school seniors, or 66.7% can now go to any UT campus free of tuition and fees! That’s the message we have been delivering across the state at 15 different high schools across the state, from Bristol to Memphis, from Martin to Chattanooga.  The “UT Promise 4.0” tour gives us the chance to highlight significant enhancements to the program.  

1. Expanded eligibility: The qualifying income level for UT Promise scholarship recipients has expanded, once again, this time from $60,000 to $75,000 (adjusted gross income).  This means that even more Tennesseans, up to two thirds, will have access to the transformative benefits of a higher education.
2. Increase in award: In addition to adjustments in income level, UT Promise will also guarantee a minimum $500 award per semester for qualifying students. After tuition and fees are paid, students will be able to apply remaining funds toward other educational expenses. This increase in the award from $100 to $500 represents additional steps taken by the University to decrease students’ cost to attend the UT school of their choice while also incentivizing program engagement. 

These changes go into effect for fall semester 2024.

One of the most important, but sometimes overlooked, element to the program is that every student gets a volunteer mentor, like myself, who can guide them on their journey and give them often much needed encouragement.  Mentorship can be as simple as assisting students with their time management skills or forming a deep connection that can last a lifetime.  Mentorship sessions can occur in person, or via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. 

But students do have some skin in the game — they are expected to provide eight hours of community service each semester. I like to think of this more as an opportunity to learn about their community and learn how their talents can make a difference.  One service experience choice might spark a passion that will last a lifetime. 

As we traveled across our great state, visiting high schools and engaging with students, educators, and communities, we were reminded of the profound impact that higher education can have on individual lives and the collective future of our society.

The dedication and passion of our educators, counselors, and administrators have been evident in every school we visited. Their unwavering commitment to nurturing the dreams of our youth was a heartwarming testament to the power of education.

As a land grant university for the state of Tennessee, our mission in providing access to education to more Tennesseans and making education more affordable is critical.  The UT Promise program is yet another way we are providing greater access for more Tennesseans to get a better education, a better job and a better life.   

Randy Boyd signature
Randy Boyd
President, University of Tennessee System