Majority of UT Students Retain Lottery Scholarships

KNOXVILLE — The majority of University of Tennessee, Knoxville freshmen were able to make the grades to keep their lottery scholarship support, and the average grade point average for freshmen was higher this year, university officials announced today.

The news comes at the end of the first full year of the popular scholarship program that has been credited with helping to increase demand and improve student quality at UT.

Richard Bayer, dean of enrollment services at the university, said that 60 percent of UT’s 3287 freshman lottery scholarship recipients maintained their scholarship eligibility.

Bayer said that 36 percent did not meet the state’s academic standards to maintain the scholarship funding. Another 4 percent withdrew from the university for personal reasons or did not maintain the required 12-hour course load.

Students are eligible to appeal to retain the funding based on extraordinary circumstances, such as a death in the family.

The fall 2004 freshman class posted an average grade point average of 2.73 for the academic year that just ended, up from the 2.67 mark posted by the 2003 freshman class at the end of the previous academic year.

For the 1,636 sophomores who received lottery scholarship support, 80 percent maintained the award based on more stringent requirements. Sophomores must maintain a 3.0 GPA through an attempted 48 credit hours.

“We are pleased to see that the majority of our students were able to maintain this financial support and to continue to succeed academically. We’re also pleased that the lottery scholarship is helping the university to continue to improve our overall academic quality,” Chancellor Loren Crabtree said.

“Clearly, the University of Tennessee is attracting and retaining more of our state’s best and brightest students. That’s good news for our university, and in the long run good news for our state. We believe more of these students will settle in Tennessee and contribute to our state’s economic growth if they enroll and graduate from UT,” Crabtree said.

The university, after the launch of the lottery scholarship program, has seen an overall increase in applications — this year receiving more than 12,000 applications for approximately 4,000 slots. This demand has led to an increase in the academic preparedness of entering students. The average ACT score of entering students for fall semester 2005 is 25.6, the highest ever at the institution.

Bayer said the final tally of students who retained their scholarships was higher than preliminary projections indicated. In January, about 42 percent of the freshman lottery scholars were notified that they were in jeopardy of losing the support, based on their grades at that point.

“Our advising staff and faculty are proactive throughout the year in helping students make improvements needed to maintain their awards,” said Bayer. “We expect that as freshmen get further integrated and learn to better manage their academic work, retention of the scholarships will continue to improve.”

Bayer said the university also is working with students to identify alternative student aid options for those who did not maintain eligibility in the lottery scholarship program.

Services like the new Student Success Center will help improve retention by creating a one-stop shop for troubleshooting, tutoring and mentoring services, Bayer said.

The Office of Financial Aid notified students in early May of other financial aid options available, including grants, loans and work-study programs. An overview of alternative aid is available at http://web.utk.edu/~finaid.