UT System leaders announce details of ‘Promise’ to help UT Dallas students pay for college

New $300 million Promise Plus program will build on Board of Regents’ ongoing support of UT Dallas

As part of its ongoing commitment to support UT Dallas and its status as a top-tier public research university, the UT System Board of Regents has approved the creation of a new $300 million endowment to reduce the cost of higher education for undergraduate students and their families at all UT academic institutions, including UT Dallas. 

UT System and UT Dallas leaders joined elected officials and members of the campus community at UT Dallas on Wednesday to share details of the Promise Plus program, which will greatly expand tuition assistance programs at seven UT institutions.

UT Dallas’ Comet Promise program currently covers tuition for students whose adjusted gross family income is less than $25,000. The Promise Plus endowment, which will make distributions to institutions annually, is expected to generate about $1.5 million for UT Dallas this year, making it comparable to a $30 million endowment. That will raise UT Dallas’ threshold to $65,000 and make it possible for 176 more students to have their entire tuition covered. This new threshold includes 47 percent of DFW Metroplex 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 he and the Board were committed to developing similar programs for all UT academic institutions.

“UT Dallas has done a magnificent job of leveraging UT System investments to generate student success and to benefit the Metroplex and the entire state of Texas,” Eltife said. “And now, Promise Plus will be used to expand educational opportunities for even more students by making it possible for them to earn a UT Dallas degree at no cost.”

The Promise Plus endowment is expected to grow in value over time, consistently increasing the allocation to UT Dallas 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. “UT Dallas graduates offer essential expertise to Texas’ strong and competitive economy, and we hope the Promise Plus program makes their educational path financially easier.”

Funding from the Board of Regents continues to play a critical role in UT Dallas’ ascent, President Richard C. Benson said.

"With the addition of the annual Promise Plus funds, we can increase the annual family income threshold [to $65,000] to qualify for aid,” Benson said. “This means that more Texas freshmen and transfer students will receive financial support.”

Promise+ UT Dallas Infographic with the text introduction: Regents created the $300 million Promise+ endowment to expand tuition assistance programs at UT academic institutions. UT Dallas will receive $1.5 million in the first year alone, making it possible for an additional 176 students whose families make less than $65,000 to have their entire tuition covered.
Promise+ Infographic for UT Dallas.
Click on the image to download the PDF file.

Funding from the Promise Plus endowment will add to the almost $293 million that the Board of Regents has invested in UT Dallas over the last 10 years alone to help advance the institution’s continued rise as a major research hub and to become a model for student achievement and economic vitality for North Texas and the entire state. In 2018, UT Dallas became the youngest institution, and the third in Texas, to become eligible for support from the state’s National Research University Fund. Two years prior, UT Dallas achieved the prestigious Carnegie R1 Classification, indicating that it has reached significant benchmarks in research and academics and the highest levels of excellence, innovation and impact.

In just the last decade, Regents contributed $239 million toward facilities to support education and research, including: 

  • Construction of the Brain Performance Institute to provide instructional and research space for cognitive neuroscience experts, research clinicians, and community advocates to address diminishing cognitive brainpower across the lifespan that affects every sector of society.
  • Construction of the Bioengineering and Sciences Building to foster collaborative interdisciplinary groups of scientists and engineers to advance research in the health sciences, especially recovery from disease and injury.
  • Renovation of space in the Engineering and Computer Science North Building into research laboratories for the Texas Analog Center of Excellence, which is creating analog and radio frequency technology to address energy efficiency, health care and public safety. 
  • Addition to the Naveen Jindal School of Management to accommodate classrooms, a trading lab, offices, computer labs and other instructional space. 
  • Expansion of the Callier Center for Communication Disorders with state-of-the-art clinical facilities to train the next generation of practitioners and researchers in speech language pathology, audiology and pediatric autism spectrum disorders.
  • Construction of a new Sciences Building to provide classrooms, laboratories, offices and support space primarily for the Department of Physics.
  • Construction of the Biomedical Engineering and Sciences Building, a facility shared by UT Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center, currently being erected on the UTSW East Campus.

Regents have also allocated more than $33 million to recruit and retain 60 notable UT Dallas faculty members through its successful Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention (STARs) program in the past decade. To date, those faculty members have collectively generated more than a seven-fold return on investment through increased research support for UT Dallas. In addition, more than $20 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, which has approved more than $122 million in capital construction assistance (formerly called Tuition Revenue Bonds) over the last 10 years for UT Dallas’ Engineering and Computer Science West Building and the UT Dallas Student Success Center.

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 El Paso, UT Permian Basin, UT San Antonio, UT Rio Grande Valley 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)