MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, in a note to university community Friday, underscored MTSU's standing as a destination of choice for first-generation students and its long success in helping low-income students who meet admission standards overcome obstacles often posed by tuition and fees.
McPhee's message follows an announcement by the University of Tennessee System that students eligible for Pell Grant aid (family income of $50,000 or less), and who qualify for the HOPE Lottery Scholarship, can attend one of their institutions without paying tuition or mandatory fees.
"I'm proud to say that MTSU students in this category have attended our institution for years without paying tuition or mandatory fees," McPhee said. "Our Admissions and Financial Aid teams are among the best at helping our low-income students qualify for the full range of federal and state scholarships and assistance."
He said about 50 percent of MTSU's student population receives Pell aid; about 30 percent of UT-Knoxville's population receives Pell aid.
"That's why we are a destination of choice for first-generation college students," McPhee said. "And we've done all of this while raising our admissions standards and setting records on average ACT scores of our incoming freshmen."
McPhee also cited a recent New York Times database, the median family income of a student from Middle Tennessee State is $71,700, and 25 percent come from the top 20 percent of income strata. According to the same database, the median family income of a student from UT-Knoxville is $96,900, and 42 percent come from the top 20 percent.
And he said MTSU's full-time undergraduate tuition and fees of $9,206 for the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters remains the lowest of the state's three largest universities. University of Tennessee-Knoxville charges $13,006, while the University of Memphis charges $9,701.
"Our affordability makes MTSU more accessible to students from all income levels seeking a top-tier educational experience," he said.
McPhee also noted that MTSU recently "substantially increased the value and broadened eligibility of our Presidential Scholarship, which more than doubled the amount we awarded to some high-ability freshmen who will enroll this fall."
"We at MTSU are pleased that UT has joined our university in expressing its commitment to serving the higher education needs of the state's at-risk students," he said.