MTSU leads state in service to at-risk students

You may have heard or read that the University of Tennessee System announced Thursday that students eligible for Pell Grant aid (family income of $50,000 or less), and who qualify for the HOPE Lottery Scholarship, can attend one of their institutions without paying tuition or mandatory fees.

I’m proud to say that MTSU students in this category have attended our institution for years without paying tuition or mandatory fees. Our Admissions and Financial Aid teams are among the best at helping our at-risk students qualify for the full range of federal and state scholarships and assistance. About 50 percent of our students receive Pell aid (in contrast, about 30 percent of UT-Knoxville’s population receive Pell aid).

That’s why we are a destination of choice for first-generation college students. And we’ve done all of this while raising our admissions standards and setting records on average ACT scores of our incoming freshmen.

It is interesting to note that according to a recent New York Times database, the median family income of a student from Middle Tennessee State is $71,700, and 25% come from the top 20 percent of income strata. According to the same database, the median family income of a student from UT-Knoxville is $96,900, and 42% come from the top 20 percent.

It’s also important to remember that MTSU’s full-time undergraduate tuition and fees of $9,206 for the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters remains the lowest of the state’s three largest universities. University of Tennessee-Knoxville charges $13,006, while the University of Memphis charges $9,701. Our affordability makes MTSU more accessible to students from all income levels seeking a top-tier educational experience.

And, this year, we substantially increased the value and broadened eligibility of our Presidential Scholarship, which more than doubled the amount we awarded to some high-ability freshmen who will enroll this fall.

USA Today Network-Tennessee interviewed me in a story on the reaction of other university presidents to the announcement. In short, I said we at MTSU are pleased that UT has joined our university in expressing its commitment to serving the higher education needs of the state’s at-risk students. You can read it here:

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