The University of Texas System Board of Regents has approved the creation of a $300 million endowment to reduce the cost of higher education for undergraduate students.

Announced March 16, the Promise Plus program will expand tuition assistance programs at seven UT institutions, including The University of Texas at Dallas, which is located in Richardson.

“Financial challenges should never stand in the way of any Texan who wishes to earn a high-quality degree,” System Chancellor James Milliken said at a presentation at UT Dallas. “I’m grateful to the board of regents for this new and important investment in our students. UT Dallas graduates offer essential expertise to Texas’ strong and competitive economy, and we hope the Promise Plus program makes their educational path financially easier.”

UT Dallas’ Comet Promise program covers tuition for students whose adjusted gross family income is less than $25,000. This program also prevents transfer students from receiving financial aid.

Equivalent to a $30 million endowment for the university, the Promise Plus endowment will raise UT Dallas’ tuition assistance threshold to $65,000. This threshold will make it possible for 176 more students to have their entire tuition covered, which includes 47% of Dallas-Fort Worth-area households, according to UT Dallas’ estimates. The new program also allows transfer students to receive financial aid, officials said.

Expanding the tuition assistance program was discussed in 2019 when the board of regents created a $167 million endowment to support students at UT in Austin. Regents Chair Kevin Eltife said at the time he and the board were committed to developing similar programs for all UT academic institutions.

Other schools that will benefit from the program include UT Arlington, UT El Paso, UT Permian Basin, UT San Antonio, UT Rio Grande Valley and UT Tyler.

Promise Plus funds will now be eligible for full-time, undergraduate students who are Texas residents and qualify for need-based aid. UT Dallas officials said the program will be used to supplement federal and state aid, such as Pell grants and Toward EXcellence, Access, and Success Grant Program grants.

"With the addition of the annual Promise Plus funds, we can increase the annual family income threshold to qualify for aid,” UTD President Richard Benson said. “This means that more Texas freshmen and transfer students will receive financial support.”

According to UT Dallas officials, the Promise Plus endowment is expected to grow in value over time, benefiting more students as the years go by.

The board of regents has invested almost $293 million in UT Dallas over the last 10 years to advance the institution’s continued rise as a research hub in the North Texas area. This includes $239 million toward facilities as well as more than $33 million to recruit and retain faculty members.

In addition, more than $20 million has been earmarked to pay for additional repairs and upgrades to buildings, lab equipment, the addition of new technology and improvements to provide critical campus infrastructure.