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UNT Insider | November 2008 Issue | Education is Freedom

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UNT, Education is Freedom partnering to provide free tuition, fees for Dallas ISD students of excellence

From a UNT News Service Press Release

Emerald Eagle Reception

UNT established a new partnership with Education is Freedom that guarantees that Dallas' academically talented but financially needy students have access to a higher education degree without paying tuition and fees.

The proclamation signed by President Gretchen M. Bataille and Marcus Martin, president and CEO of EIF, states that Dallas Independent School District students who complete the EIF curriculum automatically will be admitted to UNT's Emerald Eagle Scholars program, assuming they are academically and financially eligible.

The new partnership, which will take effect next fall, is projected to admit 250 DISD EIF students to UNT as Emerald Eagle Scholars during the next four years. Each Emerald Eagle Scholar will have at least $28,000 in tuition and fees covered during his or her college career. It is estimated the partnership will result in a $7 million benefit to Dallas ISD students graduating from high school between 2009 and 2013.

"Education is Freedom is an organization committed to helping young students succeed, and as one of Texas' best universities, UNT is committed to providing affordable, accessible, high-quality higher education to bright and talented students," Bataille says. "I am proud to establish this new partnership and look forward to the opportunities it will provide to many of this region's students."

EIF is a nonprofit organization designed to eliminate barriers to higher education and promote equality of opportunity in college attendance. The program prepares high school students for college by requiring that they:

  • maintain a strong grade point average
  • participate in Advanced Placement courses
  • minimize absences
  • participate in other preparatory activities

In return, students receive guidance, mentoring and help finding financial support for their college careers. Currently, the Dallas ISD offers an EIF model at three high schools:

  • W.H. Adamson
  • North Dallas
  • James Madison

EIF plans to expand the program to an additional five Dallas ISD schools in the next several years.

UNT's Emerald Eagle Scholars program began in the fall of 2007. The program provides free tuition and fees and mentoring to academically talented students with financial need. The program is open to students who live in households with annual incomes of $40,000 or less.

The Emerald Eagle Scholars program is more than a financial aid program. It emphasizes student success and on-schedule completion of each scholar's bachelor's degree. Emerald Eagle Scholars are expected to:

  • become actively involved in campus
  • if able, work an on-campus job
  • enroll in 15 hours of classes each semester
  • maintain an overall GPA of at least 2.5
  • graduate in four years

The scholars are supported by mentors, both from the student body and from the faculty and staff.

"What excites us most is that UNT has not only made a tremendous financial commitment to these students, but has developed a well-rounded program. These lucky students will graduate from UNT with not only a great education, but a lot of terrific life skills that will serve them well in their careers and beyond," EIF's Martin says.

He adds that Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert has been instrumental in working with EIF through the Mayor's Chesapeake Energy Scholarship Program and the Mayor's Intern Fellows Program, and that this partnership is an extension of those efforts.

"Good education played a pivotal role in my life. It means so much for me to see students who've worked extremely hard to overcome challenges to then have the opportunity to participate in this remarkable program offered by the University of North Texas," Leppert says.

UNT's partnership with Education is Freedom is part of the university's continuing commitment to ensuring that higher education is available to every talented student, regardless of financial need.

Alyssa Aber with UNT News Service
can be reached at alyssa.aber@unt.edu.

Read other stories in this issue:

November 2008

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