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UT Permian Basin boasts record-breaking enrollment

The Odessa university welcomed its largest class ever this fall, as officials see total enrollment up as well. 

The school’s president credits an increase in financial aid as the primary reason more students are choosing UTPB.

By Mitch Borden

The University of Texas Permian Basin saw approximately 615 freshmen enroll this fall, the largest first-year class the school has ever seen, according to school officials.

The first-year enrollment numbers are a 10% increase from the University's previous record. Overall, the school saw about a 4% increase in enrollment with its student body coming in around 5,713 according to a press release.

UTPB’s President Sandra Woodley credits an increase in financial aid that the campus was able to offer this year, specifically its Falcon Free program.

“Affordability is an important part of what we can provide to this community,” she said during a press release touting the new enrollment numbers.

The school’s Falcon Free program aims to make higher education more accessible for students who come from families with an annual income under $100,000. According to the school, half of its undergraduate students are receiving financial aid through the program, which launched this year.

Financial aid programs alongside scholarships and grants have been a “game changer” for UTPB, according to Woodley. Especially, when trying to convince locals to attend college in an area where many don’t seek out higher education.

“[The Permian Basin] is not a particularly college-going community.” She went on, “What we know is there are a lot of great high paying jobs that require some training or college out of high school and we want everyone in our surrounding communities to know that this is an opportunity for them to have that chance.”

There’s reason to be optimistic, according to Woodley, that in the coming years more local businesses and organizations as well as the University of Texas system will provide the campus with more funds to help students earn their degrees at UTPB.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.