Wednesday, December 15, 2021

By Patrick Gonzales

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The Rio-South Texas Education and Community Development Foundation (RSTEF) on Wednesday announced it will establish a $5 million endowment on behalf of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. 

The endowment will be funded annually over the next five years, with each annual payment matched by UTRGV to establish a total endowment of $10 million by 2026. 

Funds from the endowment will be used to enhance UTRGV’s newly created Graduate Select Scholarships and will be designated for graduate students in the fields of Agriculture, Food, Natural Resources, Business, Finance, Marketing, Education, Health Science, Information Technology, Manufacturing, or STEM. 

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the endowment from RSTEF will be transformative because it will provide much-needed financial aid to graduate students.  

“If you look across the country, there aren’t many scholarships available for students attaining their master’s or doctoral degrees, but at UTRGV we are committed to help ensure that all our students graduate with as little debt as possible,” Bailey said. “We are grateful for this monumental gift from RSTEF, which will allow UTRGV to provide unprecedented financial assistance to our graduate students. This will allow us to recruit the best and brightest graduate students from the Rio Grande Valley, the state and around the country.” 



Earlier this semester, UTRGV unveiled its Graduate Select Scholarship, a one-time award available for newly admitted graduate students enrolled in either traditional or accelerated online programs. The scholarship provides up to $1,000 for one academic year. Two consecutive semesters may be awarded: up to $500 per semester, for a total of $1,000. 

Graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 hours (or 3 hours per module) for the award semester. Applicants will be selected based on a competitive assessment of admissions information and scholarship applications, and will be reviewed in accordance with the university's mission, identifying those with intellectual, creative and leadership potential who wish to earn a master's or doctoral degree in any discipline from UTRGV. 

Dr. Janna Arney, UTRGV executive vice president and provost, said UTRGV has taken significant steps to develop graduate programs and grow graduate school enrollment. 

“Since UTRGV opened in 2015, we have made tremendous strides in expanding our graduate school offerings and enrollment,” Arney said. “Our goal is to expand education opportunities in the Valley, and this endowment will allow students to stay in the region to attain a high-quality and affordable master’s or doctoral degree.” 



The RSTEF, formerly the South Texas Higher Education Authority, was founded in 1974 as a higher education student loan secondary market authority.  

For more than 45 years, the authority served the community by helping hundreds of thousands of students and their families achieve the dream of a higher education by providing low-cost financing and by funding millions of dollars in scholarships.  

In May 2019, the authority transitioned into the RSTEF and adopted a new mission: “to ensure residents acquire skills and knowledge and have access to economic opportunities to enable them to pursue meaningful careers and live prosperous lives in Rio South Texas.” 


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.