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KNOXVILLE — Officials at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, are reminding prospective freshmen that the deadline to apply for admission is now Dec. 1 — two months earlier than in the past.

In addition, a new admissions initiative called “Achieve the Dream” will make grant money available to help students from lower-middle-income families attend UT Knoxville.

The initiative is part of UT Knoxville’s commitment to make education affordable for all academically eligible Tennesseans.

“We want to make sure that students looking at the UT Knoxville realize the admissions date has been bumped up to Dec. 1 this year. Meeting that deadline assures that they will receive full and equal consideration for admission and for UT’s guaranteed scholarships,” said Richard Bayer, assistant provost and director of enrollment services.

In the past, the early deadline was Nov. 1 and the regular admissions deadline was Feb. 1. This year, admissions moved up the regular deadline to Dec. 1. With the changes — which bring UT in line with many other universities — admissions will be able to evaluate all applications at the same time and more promptly inform students of their final admission status. It also helps the university award its new need-based scholarships to all students who have submitted a FAFSA form and have demonstrated financial need.

Assistant Dean of Financial Aid Jeff Gerkin said the university has launched the Achieve the Dream program, which provides grant monies to Tennessee students whose family incomes are too high to qualify them for federal Pell Grants or UT Knoxville’s Pledge Scholarship, but still need financial help with college costs.

The Achieve the Dream program — which uses available institutional resources — extends UT’s assistance to students who often fall between cracks financially. Freshmen beginning classes in the fall of 2009 can qualify for the grants.

“We’ve been working with admissions for some time to develop a program to help middle-class students whose financial needs often get overlooked by other scholarship programs,” Gerkin said.

Achieve the Dream grants are $3,000 and can be used on top of the lottery-funded Hope Scholarships. The university has allotted about $1.3 million for the new program.

“In keeping with the university’s goal of making UT more accessible to Tennessee residents, we have continued to find ways to redirect current dollars and help relieve the financial burden,” Gerkin said.

To qualify, students need to apply by Dec. 1 and be admitted to UT, and complete the FAFSA form, which is required for the HOPE Scholarship, too. Eligibility will depend on applicants’ FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) results and academic achievement.

Also to make UT Knoxville more accessible to all qualified Tennesseans, admissions this fall tweaked income guidelines in the Pledge Scholarship program so more Tennessee students can attend and graduate from the state’s flagship campus debt-free. The scholarship now also covers books.

Approved by the UT Board of Trustees in the summer of 2005 and offered for the first time that fall, the Pledge Scholarship is now available to students whose families have adjusted gross incomes of $36,000 or less.

These scholarships and grants are offered in addition to the traditional guaranteed and merit scholarships available to Tennesseans. All are outlined on the Web at

For students planning to apply by Dec. 1, the easiest and fastest way to apply is online at


Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034,