Making College More Accessible

Our responsibility as a land grant institution is to ensure that all of Tennessee’s best students can attend the state’s flagship research university. A number of new initiatives are now helping to open our doors even wider.

Each year, UT provides more than $30 million in scholarships to 9,000 students. As a result of our commitment to accessible higher education, UT students as a whole graduate with 25 percent less debt than the national average, and half graduate with no debt at all.

The Tennessee Pledge scholarship supports Tennessee residents with a family adjusted gross income of up to $40,000 and covers tuition, fees, room and board, and a book allowance. The Achieve the Dream grant helps high-achieving students from lower-middle-income families.

As a first-generation college graduate, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek understands the challenges—financial, academic, and social—facing many talented high school applicants as they transition to college life.

In January, Cheek visited the White House alongside leaders from 140 other colleges and organizations for a summit looking at ways to increase college access for low-income students. “It was an honor to be part of the national discussion on such an important topic,” he said. “We’ve worked hard to make our university accessible and affordable, and our efforts have been noticed.”

As part of the summit, Cheek announced three efforts that will help UT recruit more low-income students and ensure their success once they arrive:

  • A coaching program for students who face barriers to their success at the university will build upon a program piloted this year. The university will be using indicators of success to help students who might struggle in completing their degrees. Coaches will help students transition to university life and develop academic and nonacademic success strategies.
  • A summer math program for incoming freshmen will recruit sixty incoming freshmen in a three-week program this summer, prior to the start of classes. Students in math-intensive majors who do not have strong ACT math scores will be assisted in developing the needed math skills or in identifying majors that interest them but have less focus on math.
  • A growing number of students begin their academic careers at community colleges. UT is hiring additional staff to assist these students in smoothly transferring to UT and adjusting to university life. In addition, we have enhanced the Volunteer Bridge program that provides a seamless transfer between Pellissippi State Community College and UT. These changes aim to make UT accessible and affordable to a growing number of students.


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Car Insurance April 11, 2014 - 1:03 pm

Exceptional post however I was wanting to know if you could write a little more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Many thanks!

Chris Eaker April 15, 2014 - 6:51 pm

I support these initiatives, but don’t say we must do it because we’re a land grant institution. Being a land grant institution has nothing to do with ensuring that students can attend university.


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