Achieving the American Dream

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is partnering with The University of Texas at Austin to support student success.

The Dell Foundation and UT share a commitment to improving graduation rates for students from low-income backgrounds. To that end, they have announced an innovative partnership to support all incoming freshmen who receive the federal Pell Grant.

The support will include comprehensive, individualized assistance with academic challenges, financial literacy, and the personal circumstances that impact these students’ ability to graduate, for their entire time at UT. At UT Austin, undergraduate students who receive Pell Grants—which are awarded by the federal government to students with exceptional financial need—make up roughly 20% of the student body.

In recent years, UT has initiated programs like the University Leadership Network, a comprehensive, incentive-based scholarship and leadership program, and the Texas Advance Commitment, a tuition support guarantee for low- and middle-income students, to support these rising leaders. Their persistence, academic performance and on-time graduation have all improved, delivering on UT’s promise to help Texas students achieve the American dream of social mobility.

Still, the lowest-income Longhorns graduate with an average of $20,000 in student loan debt, and their graduation rates are behind those of their middle- and high-income peers.

Through the partnership with the Dell Foundation, for the next six years, all incoming Pell Grant recipients at UT will receive personalized, multi-faceted support plus a laptop or technology credit, tutoring assistance, advising, and textbook credits. Students with the greatest financial need will also receive a $20,000 scholarship. The program will expand Dell Scholars, the Dell Foundation’s college completion program, which has supported Dell Scholars at UT Austin to graduate at a rate of 94%.

The expansion of Dell Scholars represents the most significant philanthropic contribution in the university’s history that is focused exclusively on student success, upward mobility, and unlocking student potential.
“We’re incredibly excited about this partnership with The University of Texas at Austin,” says Janet Mountain, executive director of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “Over more than 15 years of working with our Dell Scholars, we have seen the value of investing in the success of these high-potential students to ensure they have every opportunity to pursue their education, utilize their talents, and achieve their dreams.”

The partnership between UT and the Dell Foundation leverages the university’s size, scale, and public commitment—with the vision and resources of the foundation—to identify and work toward solving structural problems that impact low-income students across the country.

“We’re hoping this model will become one that other colleges and universities around the country can use to support their own students to college graduation,” Mountain says.

But it all starts at UT. “A UT education has the power to change the life of a student and the future of their family and community,” says President Gregory L. Fenves. “As a result of our groundbreaking partnership and investment by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, The University of Texas at Austin is poised to increase the opportunities for thousands of talented students whose potential to achieve will be met with unprecedented commitment, resources and support.”

“Dell Scholars is more than just a scholarship. It constantly reminded me that I deserved to be at UT and encouraged me to use all the resources available to me. Now that I’m a college adviser for high schoolers, I’m excited that my UT-bound students will receive the same kind of support I did from Dell Scholars.”
Flor de la Mora, Weslaco, TX
UT Dell Scholar Class of 2018 | BS, McCombs School of Business

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