Homeless Man Returns To College After Four Decades To Finish His Degree With A Full Tuition Paid

For some people completing college is an unfulfilled dream, but for one college dropout, this dream will become a reality soon.


David Carter began studying art major at The University of Texas at Austin in 1971, but after injuring his hand punching a glass window related to alcohol consumption, he dropped out of university at 23.

Carter had harbored great dreams of becoming a writer or an artist, but his life was spiraling out of control, when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had to spend several years without a permanent home falling into substance and alcohol abuse.

But now thanks to a local student, Carter is going to have another chance to finish his college degree.

“What I’d like to do is spend the rest of my life just doing research and writing books,” Carter said. “But I think the books I write will be better because of the college education and coming into contact with the great minds.”

Journalism junior Ryan Chandler met Carter during an assignment on homelessness for The Daily Texan. He said that he interviewed Carter as a source on Austin’s homeless problems, but after he listened to his story, he learned of his desire to get back into college, he kept in touch with Carter and became good friends.

Chandler said, “He (had) accumulated 87 hours, very close to a degree, he has always wanted to go back, but hasn’t had the financial or organizational means to do so ever since.”

“Now, with changing degree requirements, he requires 64 hours for the same degree he originally pursued; studio art.”

So with Chandler’s help, who worked with the university admissions office, Carter was assigned an adviser by UT’s College of Fine Arts.

“It’s the greatest blessing I’ve ever received,” Carter said, “He did what had to be done to get me enrolled in those classes, and I couldn’t have done it without him.”

When a magazine article about Carter was published, a UT Austin alumnus decided to pay his tuition fees. “He wants to remain anonymous and says it is because he values the importance of second chances and education,” said Chandler.

Doug Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts, said in a statement that the school would help Carter in any way they could. He further said, that Carter’s resolve to complete his degree is a testimony to completing what was started, interrupted, even decades earlier.

The statement said that the college welcomes him back like they do for other students whose education could not be completed easily. The college admires his courage and persistence.

“We’re going to give him every assistance to help him through his remaining course work. We’re grateful for the generosity of fellow Longhorns who are stepping up to support Mr. Carter,” the statement said.

What a wonderful effort by Chandler and the college to help Carter finish his college and get back to living his dream and purpose in life.