EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – When it comes to giving low-income students a chance to pursue a college education, UTEP is among the best.

UTEP has been ranked as one of the 10 best schools for low-income students, which is one of the reasons why enrollment has consistently climbed for more than two decades.

UTEP has seen a 5.7 percent increase in first-time students for the fall 2019 semester as total enrollment reached a record high of 25,177 students compared to 25,151 last year.

“The more students that go into higher education the better it is for everyone in the region,” said Gary Edens, Vice President of Student Affairs.

According to Edens, that increase is partly due to the university partnering with the high schools in the area and El Paso Community College.

“There is a tremendously smooth pathway for students to progress from high school to community college to UTEP,” said Edens.

That method has proven successful especially for low-income students. UTEP was ranked one of the top 10 universities by finance website MarketWatch for helping low-income students move up the economic ladder.

“We know that our region has a low social economic population so we’re working with students who often have not had the opportunity to go on to higher education,” said Edens.

The degree programs that have remained the most popular over the years, which UTEP refers to as the tent pole programs, include biosciences, engineering and stem fields.

According to UTEP, the university has seen an increase in first-time students, new doctoral students as well as an increase among new master’s students.

However, UTEP says getting new students is a priority but so is keeping students and seeing them graduate, as proven by the retention rate for full-time students, which increased to 75 percent this fall.