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 classes offered? Classes meet in East Austin at a location easily accessible by public transportation. Classes are 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, art 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 focused on the humanities? Studying the humanities provides students with skills of reflection and communication that can be used in college, in the workplace, in family life and beyond.

In studying the humanities, we grapple with big questions about the human condition, reading texts in a community of learners, communicating one’s perspective, understanding others’ perspectives, and reflecting on one’s life and society. These practices help people to think critically and communicate effectively at school and on the job. In our view, they also help make life meaningful.

As education scholar Mike Rose puts it, “A good education helps us make sense of the world and find our way in it.”

What if I haven’t been in school in years?  Free Minds offers a supportive environment for adult students to reenter the classroom,  and Free Minds students often come to the program after being out of school for many years. A writing instructor works with students in class and one-on-one to build writing skills. We offer in-class workshops on active reading, goal setting, time management, and other topics prepare students for next steps.

Why can’t I have been enrolled in college in the past two years? We want to make space for those who have faced barriers to college education and help them get a foot in the door. By focusing on students who have been out of college for at least two years, we aim to reach those with the greatest need for this supportive, engaging 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, and students earn college credit through ACC. All students enrolled in Free Minds are registered ACC students with the associated privileges and responsibilities, including library, tutoring, and computer lab access.

Who can I call with other questions? You can contact Jessica Gonzalez, Free Minds Program Manager, at (512) 610-7962 or via email at

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