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CLASS: Coordinated and Linked Approaches to Student Success

CLASS Initiative VI

FINANCIAL AID

UTSA awards more than $240 million in financial aid each year that includes grants, scholarships, work-study, student loans and emergency aid from federal, state and institutional resources. For many years, the financial aid office has awarded financial aid on a first-come, first-serve basis. Institutions across the country have followed this same path because there are typically more students with need than funds available. In contrast, private institutions have spent millions of dollars targeting aid to increase yield and improve retention. They have been engaged in comprehensive enrollment management strategies utilizing financial aid. With increased competition for students and a heightened focus on accountability at federal and state levels, public institutions across the country are now engaging in more effective utilization of financial aid to impact yield and retention.

UTSA has been engaged in improved retention efforts over the past few years and is now targeting limited financial aid to students who may be more likely to be retained. Moving forward, the University will need to further explore how financial aid can be distributed. Along with that effort, financial aid should be utilized to help students through crisis situations that may arise, especially if they are financial. Many students face financial situations that could prevent them from continuing at UTSA. Discussions of the Task Force on Financial Aid centered around how the University could set them up for success through emergency funding and/or providing resources that would allow them to register for classes for the upcoming semester. 

The task force recommends examining innovative financial aid strategies for the Top 10% freshmen class. This may include a change in residual need percentage, providing a 4-year guarantee of financial aid to provide reassurance to students and their families that they can continue at UTSA through to degree and/or establishing a continuing student merit award. The task force is also recommending a more comprehensive emergency grant and loan program that will make resources available to those students who would likely drop out of UTSA without additional resources. This emergency funding would also include a micro-retention grant program to help students with unpaid balances. 

CLASS Strategies for Financial Aid

SHORT-TERM

  • Micro-retention grants

  • Establish comprehensive emergency funding resources

LONG-TERM

  • Align financial aid awarding with strategic enrollment objectives

  • Align residual need model based on predictive analytics

  • Retention: determine students continuing residual need

  • Review transcript requests by students

  • Analyze our undergraduate financial aid recipients who graduated in 4-6 years