Trinity University announced Wednesday a partnership with the San Antonio Independent School District that would give incoming freshmen who graduated from SAISD schools enough financial aid to meet all their demonstrated need.

In a news conference, SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said the new partnership, dubbed the Trinity Community Investment, was an “amazing” way to allow more SAISD graduates to attend a private liberal arts college in their own backyard. 

“To have that as an option for our students, for them to be able to know that if their academics allow them to get in that they can actually be guaranteed that their financial needs would be met … I can’t wait to see the fruits, because I know that our students are going to take advantage of it,” Martinez said. “We’re going to continue to see more and more numbers of students attending universities, as well as attending Trinity.”

Trinity Dean of Admissions Justin Doty said the partnership aims to create a pipeline of students between SAISD and Trinity, a selective school that accepts just 29 percent of applicants, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” rankings. In the current first-year class, only five students are from SAISD schools out of 600-plus students. Other years have seen fewer SAISD students, though 10 percent to 12 percent of students come from Bexar County. 

“Trinity always has had this core kind of foundation and belief of access and inclusion and all of that,” Doty said. “So when we think about that, and we think about our backyard and geographically where we are, this was a no-brainer. We needed to make some inroads, especially starting with a district like this.”

It costs an estimated $62,596 to attend Trinity University as an undergraduate each year, according to the school. That includes tuition, living expenses, and fees. But if an SAISD student accepted to Trinity can’t pay for any of it, the university will cover it using financial aid dollars, Doty said.

“We’re meeting 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for families, which means that there will be no financial gaps in the package,” Doty said. “We’ll also be capping loans at $3,500 for the year.”

Trinity University, which U.S. News & World Report ranks No. 1 among regional universities in the West, has an endowment of about $1.4 billion. Eric Maloof, vice president for enrollment management, stated on Trinity’s website that the “strong fiscal health” of the university allows it to offer generous financial aid.

Trinity and SAISD hope to pitch this new partnership to students to encourage them to apply to the university. Eduardo Sesatty, the district’s director of postsecondary initiatives, said because of the pandemic, the school district would share this information with students virtually.

“Zoom is one thing that you can do,” he said. “We also got a new college and career planning platform that allows us to have conversations, but also allows us to tell students, ‘Here’s your checklist of items you need to do.’ All of this was on the backbone of the fact that we were able to get computers and hotspots and devices to students.”

The partnership also will focus on helping students complete their degrees at Trinity, not only by covering financial needs but with the help of academic advisors and the student support services department at Trinity, Doty said.

Though there’s no limit on how many students can take advantage of the new partnership, Doty said the goal right now is to enroll 10 SAISD students in the next first-year class.

“If we could enroll 10, that would be wonderful,” he said. “But our moonshot is beyond 10. Knowing that we have five in the freshman class, we want to work to 10 and beyond. And any students who end up enrolling, no matter what that number is, we’re committed to funding them appropriately.”

Trinity University’s Department of Education is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business and nonprofit members, click here.

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is a general assignment reporter at the San Antonio Report.