Texas A&M University-San Antonio's main campus building. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Freshmen and sophomore college students looking for an affordable four-year degree can now enroll at Texas A&M University-San Antonio (TAMU-SA) to start classes in fall 2016.

Since the campus was established in 2009 as an upper division university for junior, senior, and graduate students, the branch university of the College Station-based Texas A&M University System has flourished in San Antonio’s Southside. The new classes of students is estimated to add at least 600 new students to the 4,600 currently enrolled. Now that the university is accepting freshmen and sophomore applicants, it can create an “express lane application process” for students graduating from area high schools, said TAMU-SA President Cynthia Teniente-Matson.

TAMU-SA’s four-year program is technically pending official approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the governing body that grants accreditation for universities in 11 southern states.

Teniente-Matson’s childhood home is just a few miles away from campus, she said, and back then there were no nearby college options for young adults after they graduated high school.

“Texas A&M is here to fill those voids for first-generation (college students),” she said during an on-campus announcement Thursday morning.

By situating itself, with lower tuition rates near some of the poorest zip codes in the city, TAMU-SA is able to offer high quality education to local students that can save even more money by living at home.

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Superintendents Pedro Martinez, of San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), and Rey Madrigal, of Harlandale ISD, attended the announcement and Martinez said SAISD will working “very intentionally” with TAMU-SA to set up dual credit programs, tours, and an educational pipeline for the growing number of students obtaining high school degrees.

“We anticipate that many of our current high school students will be eager to enroll and pursue a degree while continuing to live at home,” Madrigal stated. “This will be a wonderful advantage to our students and their families. President Matson and the University staff are always looking for innovative ways to make higher education a reality for everyone.”

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, who graduated from nearby Harlandale High School, has also been working closely with TAMU-SA. He worked with his colleagues at the state Legislature last year to secure $63 million in funding that will go towards a new science and technology building on campus.

“(TAMU-SA) is the crown jewel in what I think is the most beautiful part of the city,” Uresti said.

The university has plenty more room to grow on its 700-acre property off of South Zarzamora Street south of Loop 410. Teniente-Matson estimated that the existing development only account for about 50 acres. Long, wide boulevards with bike lanes and landscaping stretch out to nearby thoroughfares in anticipation of TAMU-SA becoming one of the largest universities in San Antonio, rivaling UTSA’s main and downtown campuses that accommodate more than 28,000 students.

Potential students are encouraged to explore the university’s new website for newcomers, www.becomeajaguar.com to find out more about enrollment.

View of Texas A&M University-San Antonio's fountain and University Way that connects the university to SW Loop 410. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
View of Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s fountain and University Way that connects the university to SW Loop 410. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

*Top image: Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s main campus building. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

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Iris Dimmick

Iris Dimmick

Senior reporter Iris Dimmick covers City Hall, politics, development, and more. Contact her at iris@sareport.org