Students at The University of Texas-Pan American will soon have a chance to have more money for college while on a speedier path to graduating and reaping the benefits of their higher education.
The 15 Hour Cash Back award does not require students to complete a financial aid application or other forms. To be eligible for the award, students must meet the following requirements:
• be in a degree seeking program toward a first bachelor's degree;
• have a 2.5 cumulative institutional GPA;
• complete 15 hours that count toward their degree during the prior regular semester (Fall/Spring);
• be enrolled for 15 hours during current regular semester (Fall/Spring); and
• not have tuition, fees and book costs fully covered by scholarships or grants (if so, the award amount will be limited to the difference not covered, up to $500).
The primary goal of this program is to help students complete their degrees and graduate in four years, said Jael Garcia, associate director of UTPA's Student Financial Services.
"A student will save about $5,400 in tuition, fees and books by graduating in four years instead of five. This in turn can translate into a lower debt burden since students will require less loan money to complete their degree," Garcia said. "Also, students who graduate within four years can also begin reaping the benefits of higher earnings earlier or getting started earlier in a graduate program."
Resident, non-resident and international students can qualify for the award, which will be available for up to eight semesters. A student earning a 15 Hour Cash Back award during their final undergraduate term may use it during their first graduate semester if enrolled the following immediate regular semester (Fall or Spring). Repeat courses will not count toward meeting the 15 hour requirement.
Based on 2010 income figures from the U.S. Census for full-time workers 25 years and older, lost income in graduating in five years rather than four is nearly $50,000 and close to $96,000 for those graduating in six years rather than four, Garcia said.
In light of increasing college costs and excessive loan debt being incurred by students, UTPA has joined universities and colleges nationwide to push graduating in four years as the norm rather than the exception. Last year, The University of Texas System Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa called for the implementation of tuition policies that incentivize four year graduation rates in his strategic plan to advance excellence at all UT System institutions.
Two other new programs at UTPA can also assist students to graduate earlier.
Earlier this year, UT Pan American announced the UTPAchieve Program for students who have a family income of $40,000 or less and enroll for 15 hours during the regular semester (Fall and Spring). Students who qualify for UTPAchieve can have their tuition, fee expenses and $500 of book expenses per semester covered by a grant or scholarship aid. Other eligibility requirements, restrictions and additional information on this program are available at the UTPAchieve website.
Summer Boost, which will be available soon, helps students who demonstrate financial need to decrease time to graduation by encouraging summer enrollment. Students who meet the Summer Boost eligibility requirements will be able to receive $500 for enrolling in one summer class and $1,000 for enrolling in two classes. In this program, students must have successfully completed 24 hours during the regular academic year (Fall and Spring).
All three programs are contingent on funding availability.
To learn more on how to receive the 15 Hour Cash Back Award of $500, contact the Student Financial Services Office at (956) 665-2501 or visit www.askrio.utpa.edu. Information on the other programs are also available from the Student Financial Services Office.
Students can learn more about the advantages of graduating in four years at www.utpa.edu/tuition.