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KNOXVILLE — The 4,200 freshmen who will begin classes at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on Aug. 18 once again comprise one of the most academically accomplished classes the university has ever welcomed.

This year’s freshman class’ average GPA was 3.81, compared to 3.79 last year, and more than 41 percent of this year’s incoming freshmen had high school grade point averages of 4.0 or better — continuing the steady rise in this statistic over past years.

“We’re pleased that in addition to its stellar academic profile, our freshman class is diverse and represents an economic cross-section of our state,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. “Quality, access and diversity have been and will continue to be our goals.

“As we did the research to begin our quest to become a Top 25 university, we learned that UT Knoxville has for several years attracted students who are as good — if not better — than those students who attend the best universities in the country,” Cheek said. “The Class of 2014 has carried on that admirable tradition.”

The incoming freshmen have an average ACT score of 26.5 — roughly the same as it has been for the past two years.

Though nearly 500 students larger than last year, this year’s freshman class is expected to be 17 percent minority and about 8.3 percent African-American. Ninety percent of the freshmen are Tennessee residents.

About 99 percent of the in-state, incoming freshmen qualified for the state’s lottery-funded HOPE, which provides $4,000 per year toward tuition and fees.

This year also brings growth to UT’s need-based aid programs — the Tennessee Pledge Scholarship, the Tennessee Promise Scholarship and Achieve the Dream grants.

“Over the past five years, we’ve created these other financial assistance programs to help ensure that money won’t be a stumbling block for academically qualified students who want to attend UT Knoxville,” said Richard Bayer, assistant provost and director of enrollment services.

This year, about 69 percent of the institutional scholarships awarded by UT are merit-based and 31 percent are need-based. In 2005-2006, about 99 percent of UT’s institutional scholarships were merit-based.

About 14 percent of this year’s freshmen will receive the Tennessee Pledge Scholarship which, when combined with other federal, state and institutional aid, will cover mandatory costs — tuition, fees, room and board, and a book allowance. This year, the scholarship is available to students whose families have adjusted gross incomes of up to $40,000, which is about 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The average income of Pledge families is $19,400, compared to about $127,000 for all in-state students.

This year, 175 freshmen have received the Tennessee Promise Scholarship. The only program of its kind in the state, the Promise Scholarship is available to students from a group of eligible high schools across the state. Promise scholarships are valued at up to $6,850 per year plus a $1,200 book allowance. The average family income of Promise recipients is $45,727.

Also, this year, 353 freshmen have received Achieve the Dream grants. The program — for high-achieving students from middle-income Tennessee families — provides four-year grants up to $3,000 per year, when combined with the UT Volunteer or University scholarships. The average family income of recipients is $79,255.

Admission numbers aren’t final until the 14th day of class.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,