More low-income freshmen to receive funding

News Reporter

Starting next fall, more graduating seniors from Texas high schools will be eligible for the Bobcat Promise program, which waives tuition and fees for low-income freshmen.

The university will increase the family income threshold of the Bobcat Promise program from $25,000 to $35,000, university officials said. The tuition wavier program was initially developed in 2009 to increase access to higher education for low-income students.

The program guarantees free tuition and fees for 15 credit hours per semester to students with a family that has an adjusted gross income (AGI) that does not exceed $35,000, said Christopher Murr, director of Financial Aid and Scholarships. Previously, those with an income of up to $25,000 were eligible.

Bobcat Promise students must also have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and maintain a 2.0 grade point average throughout the duration of their time at Texas State, according to the university website.

Currently, there are two separate Bobcat Promise programs: one for San Marcos High School students and one for applicants statewide. San Marcos High School graduates accepted to Texas State whose adjusted gross income is $35,000 or less qualify for the program. For students at other Texas high schools, the threshold is currently $25,000, Murr said.

This enhanced opportunity for students from San Marcos served to strengthen the relationship between the university and the city, according to a university press release.

These two programs have now been consolidated into one and, as of fall 2014, all high school students in Texas whose family AGI is under $35,000 will be eligible for the program, Murr said.

“It’s a way to make sure the university is conveying to needy students that attending Texas State is possible,” Murr said. “I think it allows us to better communicate to the students statewide that there’s only one program with one set of criteria.”

The decision to expand the pool of eligibility for the Bobcat Promise was recently approved and will take effect next fall. However, the Financial Aid and Scholarships department has not looked into projections of how many more students this change will bring to the university, Murr said.

“We really haven’t based our decision on how many new students it will yield,” Murr said. “It’s really more about the communication to the students and making them understand that it is accessible.”

Funding for the program comes mostly from state and federal grants, with the Pell Grant as one of the biggest contributors, Murr said. Federal and state awards are necessary to help cover the tuition and fees for students.

Michael Heintze, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing, said he hopes the new threshold for the Bobcat Promise program will lead more students to consider attending Texas State.

“We’re excited about this change, and we’re hopeful that it will make Texas State even more attractive for students who have high financial need,” Heintze said.

Terrell Teague, San Marcos High School senior, said he decided to apply to Texas State after learning about his eligibility for the Bobcat Promise.

“If I didn’t have the Bobcat Promise, I wouldn’t go to college. I couldn’t afford it,” Teague said. “It gave me the chance to do what my parents couldn’t do—go to college.”

Daryl Ontiveros, San Marcos High School senior, said he also decided to attend Texas State partly because of the Bobcat Promise program.

 “Texas State was my first choice anyway,” Ontiveros said.

However, finding out he was eligible for waived tuition and fees encouraged him even more to choose Texas State, Ontiveros said.

Ontiveros said he is thankful the university has a program like the Bobcat Promise to ensure students have a way to fund their education.

“I’m just really grateful that the school can offer something like this,” Ontiveros said.