McAllen ISD and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley have joined in a new venture that will benefit high school students for many years to come.

The McAllen ISD-UTRGV Collegiate Academy will place McAllen ISD students in the front of the line of opportunities by providing them with a huge head start on a bachelor’s degree at no cost to their families. The anticipated savings to families will be nearly $2.4 million (per class of 125 students) over two years.

“We are building together,” UTRGV President Dr. Guy Bailey said at the signing of the agreement on Wednesday, March 23. “We are developing together. We are running together, a collegiate high school: a school, in which, everybody will be McAllen Independent School District students and, at the same time, they will be UTRGV students.”

Dr. Bailey, McAllen ISD School Board President Sam Saldivar Jr. and McAllen ISD Superintendent Dr. J.A. Gonzalez signed the agreement (called a Memorandum of Understanding) in a ceremony held at Rio Bank in McAllen. The City of McAllen is also a partner.  

“Today is a momentous occasion for our community,” Saldivar Jr. said. “We are grateful for our partnership between the City of McAllen, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and McAllen ISD to establish specific academic advanced dual credit courses benefitting our students, their families and our whole community.”

Dr. Gonzalez shared his gratitude toward UTRGV and the City of McAllen for helping make this possible.

“I’ve been in education 25 years and I can say that this is the proudest day of my career because there are so many people in this room that have a profound impact on the future of our children,” he said. “We have a lot of people that have their heart in the right place that are providing opportunities for students and their families and this is a prime example.”

Students will take courses at a location in east McAllen. The UTRGV McAllen Academic Medical Campus will be housed on a 38-acre property on the corner of Pecan Blvd. and McColl Road. Eight of those acres will support facilities for McAllen ISD students.  

“On that land, we are building a … cancer infusion center (and) a surgery center. A key element of that will be this collegiate high school located on that land so all of those students have access to everything that’s happening right there. They will see the practice of medicine right there on that campus.”

More details regarding the location and construction of the Collegiate High Schools are forthcoming and contingent on UT System Board of Regents approval.

Based on UTRGV’s tuition costs, students will save approximately $4,770 per semester (based on 12-13 credit hours). This translates to $9,541 per year and $19,082 over two years (four semesters). Each class will be limited to 125 students, meaning, over two year, the savings will be nearly $2.4 million.

Students will be able to choose from one of four tracks – Health Science, Computer Science, Engineering or Education. Student recruitment and selection will begin this spring. The first class of students will begin in fall 2023 after construction is complete.

Approximately $26 million has been set aside by UTRGV, the City of McAllen and McAllen ISD to fund the project.

 From left, UTRGV President Dr. Guy Bailey, McAllen ISD Superintendent Dr. J.A. Gonzalez and McAllen ISD School Board President Sam Saldivar Jr. show a "V" for UTRGV Vaqueros after each signed a historic agreement Wednesday, March 23, at Rio Bank in McAllen. The agreement will lead to a Collegiate Academy that will expand opportunities for students.