Applicants’ FAQ

What does it cost? The program is offered at no costs to accepted students. Free Minds provides tuition, books, theater tickets, child care, and meals on class nights for all students.


Where and when are Free Minds Project classes offered? Classes meet in East Austin at a location easily accessible by public transportation. Classes are generally two nights a week. They begin in late August and run through mid-May with a break for the winter holidays.


What does Free Minds mean by “demonstrated financial need”?
To be financially eligible for the program, your household must earn no more than 200% of the national poverty guidelines. This means that to be eligible as a single adult, you must earn $23,540 or less annually. If you have four people in your household, your annual household income must be at $48,500 or less.


What types of things do students read in class? The curriculum varies slightly each year based on the faculty members’ choices, but classes cover literature, philosophy, history, theater, and writing. Students read classic texts such as The Republic by Plato; the Declaration of Independence; A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave; and plays by Shakespeare. For a more complete sample reading list and more information, see our What We Study page.


Why is Free Minds so focused on the humanities? We believe that studying the humanities provides students with some truly unique skills that can serve them in college, in their careers, in their families and in their personal lives far beyond the nine months in the program.

Studying the humanities means grappling with big questions about what it means to be human, reading and deciphering texts in a community of learners, communicating one’s own perspective, understanding others’ perspectives, distinguishing logical arguments from faulty ones, and reflecting on one’s own life and place in society. Not only do these practices prepare people to think critically and communicate more effectively at school and on the job, but they also help make life meaningful.

In his recent article from Inside Higher Ed, entitled “Defending the Humanities,” Peter Burian aptly writes “Liberal education aspires to make people not merely successful, but fulfilled–not merely autonomous thinkers, but contributing citizens.”


What if I haven’t been in school in years? Many of our students come to Free Minds after years out of the classroom.  Free Minds offers a supportive environment for nontraditional students to reenter the classroom. A writing consultant works with students in class and one-on-one to build writing skills, and in-class workshops on study skills, financial aid, time management, and other topics prepare students for college classes.


Why is it a requirement that applicants can not have been enrolled in college in the past two years? A crucial part of our mission is to find those who have faced formidable barriers to college education and help them to get a foot in the door. Many candidates for Free Minds have never been to college before, while others have completed several semesters of college classes. By focusing on students who have been out of college for at least two years, we attempt to reach those with the greatest need for this supportive, engaging college environment.


If I am accepted, do I become a University of Texas student?     Free Minds is a partnership between UT, Austin Community College, and Foundation Communities. The class is taught by professors from UT Austin and ACC, but students earn credit through ACC. All students enrolled in Free Minds are registered ACC students with the associated privileges, including library, tutoring, and computer lab access.


Who can I call with other questions? You can contact Vivé Griffith, project director, at (512) 610-7961 or via email at

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