The University of Texas at El Paso is one of eight universities awarded an eight-year grant from the Greater Texas Foundation’s (GTF) Scholars Program to support scholarship and retention programs for Early College High School (ECHS) students.
The $1,440,000 grant will provide scholarships to UTEP students who have graduated from area early college high schools. Since 2006, nine early college high schools have opened in El Paso. Some are located on community college campuses, others are standalone, and the newest are housed in traditional comprehensive high schools. This new “school within a school” model allows ECHS students to participate in athletics, fine arts and other extracurricular activities while taking dual credit courses.
Early college high schools allow students to earn 60 hours of college credit or an associate degree from El Paso Community College by the time they finish high school at little or no cost.
From 2018 until 2022, scholarships in the amount of $800 will be awarded each fall and spring semester to 40 students starting their junior year at UTEP after their high school graduation.
“UTEP is grateful to the Greater Texas Foundation for its strategic and generous support,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “Early College High School students are on a fast track toward successful completion of their undergraduate degrees at UTEP, building on the extraordinary college-readiness opportunities they had in high school. Paired with UTEP’s enhanced academic and social support initiatives, these scholarships will enable students to continue their accelerated progress toward achieving a baccalaureate degree in two years.”
In addition to financial support, these traditionally underserved students also will receive advising, mentoring and social support to help them develop college confidence and a sense of belonging at UTEP. Students will have the opportunity to participate in conferences, service learning, student leadership and other high-impact practices outlined in the UTEP Edge, the University’s 10-year quality enhancement plan for student success.
“The University of Texas at El Paso has a long and successful history of working with early college high school students in Region 19,” said Ivette Savina, assistant vice president for outreach and student success at UTEP. “We greatly appreciate the generous award made possible by our partners at the Greater Texas Foundation and we affirm our commitment to our early college high school students by recognizing their talents and providing rich academic and social experiences to develop a competitive edge, the UTEP Edge, leading toward degree completion.”
Savina said 6,800 area students took dual-credit courses in 2016 compared to 91 students in 2001. According to a study by UTEP’s Center for Institutional Evaluation, Research and Planning, El Paso students who took dual credit courses from 2005-15 saved an estimated $36 million in college tuition and fees. Dual credit students also were 40 percent more likely to continue their studies in higher education than non-dual-credit students and more than twice as likely to graduate in four years or less.
In addition to UTEP, the GTF will distribute $6,993,322 in awards over the next eight years to seven other institutions: Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, University of Houston-Downtown, University of North Texas, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and The University of Texas at Tyler.
The GTF Scholars program was founded in 2011 to increase the number of Texas ECHS graduates who successfully transition to and complete a baccalaureate degree by providing these students with both scholarships and non-financial support.
To date, more than 500 students have participated in the GTF program, 70 percent of whom identify as Latino or Hispanic and 67 percent of whom identify as first-generation college students.