Fifteen incoming first-generation Hispanic students at St. Edward’s University will have all their college costs covered for the next five years thanks to a $2.1 million grant from the The Hector and Gloria López Foundation.
The grant, which was announced during an event on-campus on Wednesday, will cover tuition, fees and all other expenses, such as housing costs, for 15 students starting in fall 2023 and create “pathways to educational attainment and a pipeline to a successful career.” The selected López Scholars will also have access to mentorship, tutoring, study abroad programs, paid internships, leadership development and other support.
St. Edward’s University president Montserrat Fuentes, who also was a first-generation college student, said the university is the first private institution in Texas to recieve an award from the foundation. She said the goal of the grant is to empower Hispanic students and provide them with an education that leads to social mobility.
The university is a Hispanic-Serving Institution with more than 51.3% Hispanic undergraduate students and 41% students are Pell Grant recipients, she said at the event.
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“Nearly one-third of our students are the first in their families to attend college, and our faculty and staff are eager to help them succeed in the classroom, on campus and beyond,” Fuentes said in a media release. “We are honored that this grant affirms the importance of elevating future Latino leaders from all family backgrounds and life experiences.”
Foundation CEO Sergio Rodríguez said the foundation selected St. Edward’s for the grant due to its history of serving Hispanic students, including its College Assistance Migrant Program, which provides financial and academic support tochildren of migrant and seasonal farm workers. The Austin-based foundation aims to support the success of first-generation Hispanic college students and remove their barriers to resources.
According to a media release, the investment is informed by the statewide strategic higher education plan, Building a Talent Strong Texas, which aims to have at least 60% of Texans ages 25-64 have a “postsecondary credential of value” by 2030.
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“Our region has seen tremendous growth. Young Latinos are a part of that growth and need a network of support that gets them across the finish line with a degree that will boost their economic opportunities,” Rodríguez said. “We’re proud to partner with St. Edward’s because of their comprehensive student support network for Latino students and commitment to developing compassionate, competent leaders.”
To qualify, students must be Hispanic or Latino, first in their family to attend college, have financial need or have lived in and graduated from a high school in El Paso, Austin, San Antonio or the South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley areas. Students do not have to meet a minimum GPA or SAT/ACT score, and there is no separate application process for the program.
“The fact that they are admitted is enough for us,” Rodríguez said. “We don’t need to put up another barrier in order to provide support.”