UTD To Offer More Than 300 Additional Scholarships; Emphasis On Keeping Best and Brightest in Texas
New 'STARS' Program Given $500,000 in Initial Funding

To help ensure that the broadest range of students in Texas have access to higher education and that the best and the brightest remain in the state, The University of Texas at Dallas today launched the UTD STARS (Scholarships for Talented And Responsible Students) Program and provided $500,000 for its initial year of operations.

In its first year, which begins this spring, the program will offer scholarship monies to some 314 new students. Among those specifically targeted for the awards will be a) students transferring from community colleges, b) students pursuing master’s degrees and c) graduating seniors from select high schools in Dallas, Houston and other urban areas throughout the state.

The scholarship awards will range from a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $4,000 per year per student. While the scholarships will not be limited to students from Texas in every case, university officials said Texas students would receive the overwhelming preponderance of the scholarship monies. Another component of the new UTD STARS Program, they said, would be a campaign to staunch the loss of some of Texas’ best students to universities in other states due to the lure of financial awards.

“There is a crisis looming in Texas in terms of the relatively low percentage of our bright young people who attend college,” said UTD President Dr. Franklyn Jenifer. “Compared to many other states, we simply don’t stack up, and the situation seems to be getting worse instead of better.”

“The University of Texas at Dallas is committed to ensuring that the next generation of students in Texas has access to higher education,” Jenifer said. “The UTD STARS Program will help by providing merit, transfer and leadership awards for the very best students in an attempt to help them get an education and go on to become the state’s leaders of tomorrow. Once a young man or a young woman leaves the education pipeline, it can be very difficult to get them to come back.”

The new scholarships are in addition to the wide range of existing scholarships that the university makes available to students. Prominent among such offerings are the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program, designed to attract 20 of the nation’s brightest students to the UTD campus each year, and the Academic Bridge Program, which seeks to attract, support and retain promising students who graduate from Dallas-area urban high schools.

“We want top-performing students, wherever they may be on their academic journey, to think of UTD as their institution of first choice, irrespective of their financial situation,” said Dr. Mary Evans Sias, the university’s senior vice president for student affairs and external relations. “This latest expansion of scholarship opportunities now makes a high-quality education at UTD affordable to many more students than in the past.”

According to Sias, the UTD Stars Program dovetails with the state’s “Closing the Gaps” plan to improve Texas higher education – an effort in which UTD is deeply involved. Closing the Gaps aims at bringing 500,000 additional Texas students – including many more Hispanic and African-American students – into higher education by the year 2015.

UTD STARS funds also will be offered to high achievers transferring to UTD. Historically, UTD has had close working relationships with two-year institutions in Texas, including the community college systems in Collin, Dallas and Tarrant counties. In addition, UTD hopes to enroll one scholarship recipient from each of the 84 Texas chapters of Phi Theta Kappa, the official honorary society for two-year colleges, beginning next fall.

Dr. William Wenrich, chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, praised UTD’s expanded scholarship initiative and said the STARS Program would “provide an incentive for community college students in his district and others to continue their educations at an affordable, first-rate public institution of higher learning.”

“This is an outstanding opportunity for our students,” Wenrich said.

Dr. Cary Israel, president of the Collin County Community College District, expressed similar sentiments. “This scholarship program is great news. Affordability is a big issue for Texans, so I applaud UTD for making efforts to retain our most talented student scholars,” he said.

All scholarship awardees under the UTD STARS Program must be new students – not those currently enrolled. Applicants who are or will be undergraduates should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Criteria for the various scholarships available under the new program vary, with academic achievement being the common denominator. For additional information, please contact the UTD Office of Enrollment Services at 972-883-2270.

Media Contact: (972) 883-4431 [email protected] , or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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