Universal Access 2019

Galveston College Foundation lightens the load

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Galveston College Foundation is privileged to continue working away at the tough barrier which is student debt through its Universal Access (UA) Community Endowment Scholarship program and the Non-Tuition Educational Expenses Endowment Fund (UA Plus) in 2019. The changes will mean more dollars for UA-eligible students than ever before.

Galveston College UA scholar Priscila Becerril is in her fifth semester and studying to be a nurse. She will finish in 2021-2022. She plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree after graduation.

“I would love to continue,” she said. UA has been her primary source of funding her college education.

UA is a performance-driven scholarship program where eligible students receive up to $4,620. This pays for full tuition and fees for up to 60 credit hours at Galveston College. This is enough to complete an associate degree or certification program. Students must maintain a 2.0 grade-point average. Beginning in the fall 2019 semester, the Non-Tuition Educational Expenses Scholarship (also known as UA Plus) has added a $500 stipend to help students meet costs of books, digital access and other education information costs.

Jeri Kinnear became chair of the Galveston College Foundation Board of Directors this past August. Kinnear has seen first-hand the benefits the UA program creates.

“Galveston College, through the Universal Access and UA Plus scholarship programs, evens the playing field for those who graduate from high school in Galveston and want to go to college and cannot afford to do so. And, for those who can afford to go and want a head start, we will offer the same UA and UA Plus scholarships. What a great way to begin your next step in life,” Kinnear said.

The increased funding will be a big help to Becerril in completing her degree. A Ball High School graduate, she said a lot of her classmates are like her and not eligible for federal aid but can benefit from the additional assistance.

Over the last 18 years, the Galveston College Foundation’s Universal Access Community Endowment has supported over 1,700 Galveston high school graduates. These students were not eligible for federal or state funding—oftentimes because their income exceeded eligibility limits. However, they still needed financial assistance to attend college and graduate.

The Galveston College Foundation is an independent 501(c)3, founded to support Galveston College through fundraising locally, regionally and nationally. Its mission is to support Galveston high school graduates through an earned scholarship program as they strive to obtain their first two years of a baccalaureate degree or the foundation of a career through an associate degree or certificate debt free regardless of their family’s ability to pay.

Eligibility criteria for the UA scholarship program at Galveston College are available on the college’s website or by contacting the Offices of Development and Galveston College Foundation. 

Galveston College costs 7 percent less than its peers (in district) and 11 percent less (out of district). Students can save $14,000 by taking their first two years at Galveston College when compared to attending the University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston’s School of Nursing and studies at Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Galveston College received approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in December 2018 to expand its traditional community-college mission to include the awarding of bachelor’s degrees. The college launched a Bachelor of Applied Science in Healthcare Management program in fall 2019 with a full cohort of students, and plans to expand its applied baccalaureate offerings in the future.

In May, the Galveston College Foundation’s full board voted to extend UA Plus funds beyond the associate degree to its scholars that choose to continue at Galveston College for a baccalaureate program.

In sharp contrast to a low of 35 percent graduation rate of students receiving federal Pell grants, a full 88 percent of students receiving support from the Universal Access endowment either graduate or obtain sufficient academic credits to transfer to a four-year institution of their choosing.

Submitted by the Offices of Development and Galveston College Foundation