Applications for spring 2021 are now open.

Apply Now!

Health and safety guidelines around the COVID-19 pandemic and Austin Community College decisions to remain online through fall 2020 have led Free Minds to delay starting a new Free Minds class until January 2021. Programming in fall 2020 will be dedicated to serving our community of Free Minds graduates.

Although our priority deadline has passed, we will consider applications for the class of 2021 on a rolling basis until mid-December. Applicants will hear back from the program regarding next steps in the process. Classes begin in mid-January and will end in May. For any questions on the process, feel free to call the Free Minds office at 512-610-7961 or email us at

Free Minds staff will follow the guidance of partner institution Austin Community College in making the decision whether to hold class in-person or online in spring 2021. Our top aim is to create an educational experience that is safe as well as supportive.

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Who Are Free Minds Students?

Every year, students come to Free Minds from a wide range of educational backgrounds, ages, and experiences. Free Minds welcomes students who have been in college previously as well as those who have never set foot in a college classroom before. We welcome those who are already passionate about reading and writing, as well as those who aren’t quite sure what we mean by “the humanities.” Previous classes have included students with families and those living on their own, retirees, and recent high school graduates. There is no cookie-cutter Free Minds student, but successful applicants share at least one thing in common: enthusiasm for and commitment to the next phase of their education.

Benefits of Free Minds
Students in the Free Minds class have access to the following:

  • a two-semester college class in humanities
  • six college credits from ACC upon successful completion of the course
  • free tuition, books, and meals on class nights
  • instruction from experienced UT and ACC professors
  • practice writing and speaking in a supportive academic environment
  • free quality child care through Creative Action
  • visits to museums, theater performances, and special classes with writers, scholars, and higher education professionals
  • financial aid instruction, a college fair, and dedicated ACC advising
  • invitations to monthly alumni programs and writing workshops

Am I Eligible?

Eligible applicants must

  • be at least 18 years old
  • have demonstrated financial need
  • have a high school diploma or GED
  • be able to read challenging books in English
  • not yet have a college degree and not have been enrolled in a degree-seeking program within the past two years
  • make a commitment to attend class regularly and complete all assignments

Still have questions? Visit our Applicants’ FAQ page.