UTSA’s newly expanded Bold Promise program offers top high school students a chance at free tuition

Only about 1 out of 3 students who are selected for the program accept the offer

SAN ANTONIO – Bold Promise Program at UTSA offers all tuition paid to selected students who graduate at the top of their high school class, but only 1 out of 3 of those chosen take the offer.

Giovanna Gallegos, a UTSA Junior Early Childhood Education student, says it was her dream to attend UTSA. But she never dreamed she would because her family couldn’t afford it.

“I was going to stay back at home because my hometown’s university was cheaper,” Gallegos said.

She graduated at the top 10% in her high school, with an outstanding GPA and an associate’s degree already in hand. The payoff to her hard work arrived in the mail, via an acceptance letter to UTSA with acceptance to the Bold Promise Program.

“I checked the amount and I was like, Wow, that’s unbelievable, because I don’t recall applying for a scholarship,” she explains. After investigating some more she realized it wasn’t a hoax, her college degree would be free if she could keep her grades up to continue her eligibility in the program.

“I mean, it’s free money. Like, who doesn’t love that, you know?” she smiles. “I don’t have to work. It does give me a lot more time to study. So I need be a full-time student.”

UTSA recently announced it was expanding the eligibility into the program, raising the bar for families who make under $50,500 up to $70,000 a year.

To qualify for the UTSA Bold Promise program, a student must also be a recent Texas high school graduate who ranked in the top 25% of their class.

Arnold Trejo, executive director of financial aid and scholarships at UTSA, says students don’t need to apply. The university handpicks those students into the Bold Promise program through their UTSA and FAFSA or TASFA applications.

“What we don’t want is for students and families to price themselves out of a four-year degree,” Trejo said.

The Bold Program was launched 2 years ago, 1,380 students are enrolled in the program. The average gift is $13,387. But the problem is only about 1 out of 3 students who are selected for the program accept. About 8 out of 10 students enrolled continued their enrollment. GPAs for Bold Promise students are higher than other students, the average grade for a Bold Promise student is a B.

Trejo says the staff is doing surveys to figure out what, if any, issues are holding students back from taking free money.

Click here to visit the FAFSA website.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.