NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A new University of Tennessee (UT) policy will see any student who’s in the top 10% of their class in any high school in the state has guaranteed early admissions to UT.

The same goes for any student who has a 4.0 GPA or higher.

Finally, any student with at least a 3.2 GPA and a 23 on their ACT (or an 1130 on their SAT) will be guaranteed admission to any UT campus outside the flagship campus in Knoxville.

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“UT-Knoxville is going to be looking at that third criteria for maybe a future date, possibly next year,” UT President Randy Boyd said. “They want to have a little bit more time to process some data and see the impact of accepting the top ten percent.”

The university saw one of its toughest admissions rates in history this fall, as it admitted 59.4% of in-state students and 33.3% of out-of-state students.

Compare that to the four years previous, where it admitted over 71% of in-state students and over 67% of out-of-state students.

The inspiration for the move actually came from the University of Texas system, which automatically accepts the top 6% of students.

“States like Texas, when they introduced the top 10% guaranteed admittance policy, they saw a 16% increase in applications,” Boyd said.

Currently, Tennessee’s college-going rate is just over 54%.

“We are one of the lowest in high-school graduating attainment for college. So, we want to encourage that,” Rep. Caleb Hemmer (D-Nashville) said. “We think this is a smart, evidence-based policy that will work and will work great.”

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Hemmer is a UT grad. When he began doing research on the subject, he was pleased to find the university was already conducting its own study, too.

“I think this is going to make a huge difference for the disadvantaged,” Hemmer said. “It’s very equitable treatment, you think about the top ten percent of our best and brightest in the state. We’re allowing our taxpayer money to be very efficiently used.”

The GPA used for the benchmark will be taken from the student’s sixth semester, which is typically the end of junior year.