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Keeping UT Attainable and Accessible

As we trumpet the virtues of our new class of freshmen each fall, we hear from some Tennesseans who question whether our growing academic profile has made UT unattainable for many of our state’s students.

Numbers can confuse; while we draw an increasingly accomplished group of students from across the country, UT is dedicated to serving a broad spectrum of students, especially those in Tennessee.

Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Kari Alldredge and her team are trying to drive that point home by being more careful about how we present our new freshman class.

“For some families, hearing that our incoming freshmen had an average high school GPA of 3.96 feels out of reach,” she explained. “So we are getting away externally talking about our average GPA or average ACT score.”

Looking at the “middle 50 percent” of our students, you get a truer picture: 50 percent of our incoming freshmen have ACT scores between 25 and 30, and 50 percent of them have high school GPAs between 3.62 and 4.36.

These facts also illustrate how we’re working to keep UT both accessible and attainable:

  • More than 76 percent of this year’s incoming freshmen are from Tennessee.
  • First-generation students and underrepresented students make up about one-fifth of our new freshman class.
  • This fall, we welcomed 1,333 students who have transferred to UT from two- and four-year institutions.
  • We welcomed our largest Volunteer Bridge class to date: 213 students. These students can live on the UT campus while completing their first year of studies at Pellissippi State Community College. Upon successful completion of that program, they will transfer into UT as sophomores.
  • More than one-fourth of our incoming freshmen come from families whose incomes make them eligible for Pell Grants.
  • Ninety-three percent of our entering freshmen receive financial aid and scholarships from federal, state, and private sources.
  • Eighty-nine percent of our Tennessee applicants are given a pathway to a UT education.

We also continue to look for ways to make college affordable so more students can enjoy those benefits:

  • This year, we had a 0 percent tuition increase.
  • We invested more than $60 million in scholarships for students arriving this fall.
  • Almost half of our students graduate debt free.