UT Welcomes 4,200-Plus ‘Top 25 Caliber’ Freshmen as the Class of 2016

More than 4,200 freshmen begin classes Wednesday, August 22, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They are Top 25-caliber students culled from one of the largest group of applicants the university has seen in recent years.

Move-in begins Saturday, August 18, for more than 7,300 new and returning students who will converge on UT’s twelve residence halls.

“Academically, these students are in the top 10 percent in Tennessee,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. “They are representative of a Top 25 university, and it will be evident to them that we’re working on our facilities and programs to give them the educational experience expected from a top-tier public research university.”

New and returning students will arrive on campus to see construction work dotting the landscape. A record-amount of building and renovation is under way, including a new Student Union, the John Tickle Engineering Building, and the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center.

The Class of 2016 comes with an average ACT score of 27 and average GPA of 3.89. About 44 percent had average high school GPAs of 4.0 or higher.

About 89 percent of this year’s freshmen are Tennessee residents; about 19 percent of them are minority students.

Richard Bayer, assistant provost and director of enrollment services, said the university received about 14,400 applications for the seats in this year’s freshman class. That’s up 5 percent over last year.

“We’re growing and changing, all with an eye on becoming a Top 25 university—and students and their parents have taken note,” he said. “The increase in applications shows people understand that UT is a great educational value.”

As in previous years, about 99 percent of the in-state, incoming freshmen qualify for the state’s lottery-funded HOPE, which provides up to $6,000 per year toward tuition and fees. The lottery scholarship is a factor in the significant rise in freshman qualifications over the last several years.

To make sure that money is not a stumbling block for the state’s academically qualified students, UT offers several need-based scholarship programs. This year, about 52 percent of the institutional scholarship dollars—those awarded by UT—are merit-based, and 48 percent are need-based. In 2005–2006, about 99 percent of UT’s institutional scholarships were merit-based.

Of this year’s in-state freshmen:

  • 552, or about 13 percent, are receiving the Tennessee Pledge Scholarship which, when combined with other federal, state, and institutional aid, covers mandatory costs—tuition, fees, room and board, and a book allowance. This year, the scholarship is available to students whose families have adjusted gross incomes of up to $40,000, which is about 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The average income of Pledge families is $21,757, compared to about $125,000 for all in-state students.
  • 138, or about 3 percent, are receiving the Tennessee Promise Scholarship. The only program of its kind in the state, the Promise Scholarship is for students from eligible public high schools across the state. Promise scholarships are valued at up to $8,396 per year plus a $1,200 book allowance. The average family income of Promise recipients is approximately $45,000.
  • 132, or about 3 percent, are receiving Achieve the Dream grants. The program—for high-achieving students from middle-income Tennessee families—provides four-year grants of up to $3,000 per year. The average family income of recipients is approximately $79,000.

Enrollment numbers are not finalized until the fourteenth day of class.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)

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