UT System Regents, Chancellor deliver ‘Promise’ to provide tuition relief to UTRGV students

New $300 million endowment will build on Regents’ ongoing support of UTRGV

Harlingen, Texas – As part of its continued commitment to support The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its remarkable rise as a major Hispanic-serving University, the UT System Board of Regents recently created a new $300 million endowment to reduce the cost of higher education for undergraduate students and their families at all UT academic institutions, including UTRGV. 

UT System and UTRGV leaders joined elected officials, faculty, community leaders and prospective students at UTRGV Harlingen Collegiate High on Thursday to share details of the Promise Plus program, which will greatly expand tuition assistance programs at seven UT institutions.

UTRGV’s Tuition Advantage program currently covers all tuition costs for students whose adjusted gross family income is less than $100,000. The current $100,000 threshold is the largest of any no-cost tuition program in the state and is believed to be the largest of its kind in the nation.

The Promise Plus endowment, which will make distributions to institutions annually, is expected to generate $3.75 million for UTRGV in the first year, making it comparable to an $83 million endowment. It also will raise UTRGV’s family income threshold to $125,000 and make it possible for about 400 more students to have their entire tuition covered. This new threshold covers 90% of South Texas households.

In 2019, the Board of Regents created a $167 million endowment to support students at UT Austin. At the time, Regents Chairman Kevin P. Eltife said the regents and chancellor were committed to developing similar programs for all UT academic institutions.

“UTRGV is one of the youngest institutions in the country and already is a national leader in expanding educational opportunities for students by lowering their out-of-pocket cost to attend college,” Eltife said. “We're pleased that this new investment will make it possible for even more students to be able to earn a UTRGV degree tuition-free.”

The Promise Plus endowment will grow in value over time, consistently increasing the allocation to UTRGV and benefiting more students year after year.

“Financial challenges should never stand in the way of any Texan who wishes to earn a high-quality UT degree, and I’m grateful to the Board of Regents for this new and important investment in our students,” said UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken. “UTRGV graduates offer essential expertise to Texas’ strong and competitive economy, and we hope the Promise Plus program makes their educational path financially easier.”

Since welcoming its first class in 2015, UTRGV has been a catalyst for social mobility and student success in the Valley. The Board of Regents Promise Plus commitment will play a critical role in expanding access and encouraging student achievement, UTRGV President Guy Bailey said. 

“We are grateful to the UT Board of Regents for its continued commitment to the UTRGV community and the Rio Grande Valley community,” Bailey said. “Their support helps us maximize the opportunities we provide our students and their families and lays the groundwork for career preparation and options and a more prosperous future."

Funding from the Promise Plus endowment will add to the almost $300 million that the Board of Regents has invested in UTRGV since its creation to help advance the institution’s continued establishment as a model for student success and an economic engine for South Texas.

UTRGV represents a commitment to one of Texas’s most dynamic fast-growing regions, with a School of Medicine and teaching and research facilities across the region in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, Weslaco and South Padre Island. In 2020, the institution earned the Carnegie R2 distinction, an indication of a high activity of impactful research.

Regents have contributed more than $270 million toward facilities at UTRGV to support education and research, including:  

  • Construction of three buildings to accommodate rapid growth and the clinical, academic and research missions of the School of Medicine: 
    • The Institute of Neuroscience, which will provide world-class facilities for the departments of neurology, psychiatry, and neurosciences and will house clinics and diagnostic centers for numerous neuropsychiatric and aging disorders. 
    • The Team Based Learning Center, which will be an extension of the existing Medical Education Building and will house faculty and administrative offices, small group study spaces, flexible and general-purpose classrooms, conference rooms, and support spaces.  
    • The Center for Human Genetics laboratories, which will provide urgently needed space to facilitate research supported by multiple National Institutes of Health grants.  
  • Construction of the Music, Science and Learning Center to support general academics, music instruction and recitals, math and language labs, and science teaching labs.
  • Construction of a Science Building to serve students and support various STEM disciplines, increasing classroom capacity and providing additional instructional and research laboratories.  
Promise+ for UT Rio Grande Valley. $271.8 million in PUF funding over the last  decade toward facilities to support  education and research at UTRGV, including:  AND OTHER CRITICAL INVESTMENTS Construction of three buildings to accommodate rapid growth  and the clinical, academic and research missions of the  School of Medicine and diagnostic centers for numerous  neuropsychiatric and aging disorders.
Promise+ Infographic for UT Rio Grande Valley.
Click on the image to download the PDF file

On top of that, more than $12 million has been earmarked to pay for additional major repairs and upgrades to buildings, lab equipment, and the addition of new technology and improvements to provide critical campus infrastructure.

The UT System also has the full partnership of the Texas Legislature through its approval of more than $112 million in capital construction assistance (formerly called Tuition Revenue Bonds) for UTRGV’s Multipurpose Academic Center, Interdisciplinary Engineering Academic Studies Building and Health Affairs Building.

Regents have also allocated more than $15 million to recruit and retain nine notable faculty members through its successful STARs (Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention) program in the past decade. To date, those faculty members have collectively generated a return of more than nine times that investment through increased research support for UTRGV.

As a part of its continued growth, UTRGV also welcomed several notable investments in 2021, including a historic $40 million gift from MacKenzie Scott to support scholarships. UTRGV’s dedication to Latino student success also earned it the highly respected Seal of Excelencia certification in 2021.

Funding for the Promise Plus endowment was generated from a series of prudent investments by UT System financial officers that produced higher than expected returns this past fiscal year.

Full-time, undergraduate students who are Texas residents and qualify for need-based aid will be eligible to receive Promise Plus funds, which will be used to supplement federal and state aid such as Pell grants and TEXAS grants.

The other institutions who will benefit from the UT System’s new Promise Plus program include UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT El Paso, UT Permian Basin, UT San Antonio and UT Tyler.

Background Materials

About The University of Texas System

For more than 130 years, The University of Texas System has been committed to improving the lives of Texans and people all over the world through education, research and health care. With 13 institutions, an enrollment of more than 243,000 students and an operating budget of $23.4 billion (FY 2022), the UT System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. UT institutions produce more than 67,000 graduates annually and award more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees and more than half of its medical degrees. Collectively, UT-owned and affiliated hospitals and clinics accounted for more than 8.6 million outpatient visits and almost 1.8 million hospital days in 2020. UT institutions also are among the most innovative in the world, collectively ranking No. 4 for most U.S. patents granted in 2020, and the UT System is No. 1 in Texas and No. 2 in the nation in federal research expenditures. The UT System also is one of the largest employers in Texas, with more than 21,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and members of the National Academies – and more than 85,000 health care professionals, researchers and support staff.

News Contact Information

Karen Adler: kadler@utsystem.edu • 512-499-4360 (direct) • 210-912-8055 (cell)