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Dell Scholars at UT stand together wearing Longhorn caps.

The University of Texas expands student support to close graduation gap

Project overview

Nationally, students from low-income backgrounds graduate from college at a significantly lower rate than their higher-income peers. The University of Texas at Austin has narrowed its graduation gap over the past decade, but there is more work to be done to ensure all students have the support they need to succeed.

Launching in fall 2020, a new initiative building on the proven model of the Dell Scholars program helps level the playing field. UT for Me – Powered by Dell Scholars provides the individualized support students need to persist through college and reach a degree.

Every student that works hard and wants to go to college to earn their degree should have an opportunity to do that.

Susan Dell

How it helps

For students from low-income backgrounds, the barriers to reaching a degree are often about more than money. We can’t break them with financial assistance alone.

Many students are the first in their families to attend college, unfamiliar with navigating the higher education landscape. Others may struggle with impostor syndrome, doubting their hard-earned place on campus. Outside the classroom, college students are also parents, children, friends, and employees, with a range of responsibilities competing for their time, energy, and focus.

For students without an example to follow, or those without a strong support system, the challenges can seem insurmountable — but they’re not.

That’s why UT for Me – Powered by Dell Scholars provides individualized support, tailored to the needs of each student. Services and resources will include:

  • Personalized, multi-faceted support
  • Financial aid coaching and financial literacy training
  • Tutoring and textbook support
  • A laptop computer
  • Peer advising support
  • Internship and career planning
  • Connections to university resources and programming
  • On-track graduation planning

Students with the greatest level of financial need will become Dell Scholars at UT Austin, receiving a $20,000 scholarship over their time in college. For Texas residents, that funding will come on top of the University’s Texas Advance Commitment, which guarantees aid to cover the full cost of tuition and fees for Texas families earning $65,000 or less.

In this infographic, see how individualized support can help students navigate common challenges to college persistence.

About the partnership

We need a higher education system that creates opportunities for students from all economic backgrounds to be successful, earn their degrees on time, and prepare for life after college.

Bringing together the established success of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and The University of Texas, this initiative represents the most significant philanthropic contribution in the university’s history that is focused exclusively on student success and upward mobility. It will provide robust, individualized support for all Pell-eligible students — and additional financial support for those with the greatest needs.

The partnership will build on the model of the Dell Scholars program, which has increased graduation rates for Pell-eligible students at 2x the national average. It will bring those efforts to scale at UT Austin, which has increased its overall graduation rates by nearly 20 percentage points since 2018. UT Austin already guarantees financial assistance for low- and middle-income students through the Texas Advance Commitment. Longer-term, the initiative aims to create a national model for supporting student success.

Foundation Project Leads