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UT System rolls out guaranteed admission for top high-school grads

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Friday, November 10, 2023   

As a bold step to attract academically gifted students, the University of Tennessee System is implementing a guaranteed admissions program. This initiative aims to bolster enrollment for the UT System's four undergraduate campuses with in-state high school graduates.

Dr. Bernie Savarese, acting vice president for academic-affairs research and student success for the University of Tennessee System, said the new policy ensures admission for students who graduate in the top 10% of their class or achieved a 4.0 grade-point average or higher.

"What we know is we have a shrinking pool of high school graduates statewide, and also, we've seen declines in recent years in college going," he said. "We want to be more proactive, transparent and aggressive, in ensuring that we are enrolling more of our best and brightest Tennessee high school students across the UT System."

Savarese noted some additional criteria for the University of Tennessee at Martin, Chattanooga and Southern campuses. They'll admit students who earn an ACT score of 23 or higher and have a 3.0 high school grade point average. Only 54% of Tennessee high school graduates went on to college in 2022, according to the state's Higher Education Commission.

Data show one in three Tennessee high school graduates with high ACT scores are choosing to go to college out of state. Savarese said the UT System is focused not only on access through these new admissions changes but also affordability through financial aid and scholarship offers.

"Our UT Promise was recently enhanced, so that any student whose family makes under $75,000 adjusted gross income can go to any of our UT campuses, free of tuition and fees," he said, "and we also provide a $500 per semester stipend for any additional expenses."

He explained that raising the income threshold from $60,000 to $75,000 a year allows them to extend the scholarship to two-thirds of Tennessee families.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.


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