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After 35 years, homeless man readmitted to UT Austin to finish degree

Thanks to a current student's perseverance, David Carter will get his tuition completely paid for.

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin homeless man is getting a second chance at finishing what he started at the University of Texas in Austin.

Meet David Carter. He has experienced homelessness off and on for the past few decades and spent most of his time panhandling in Downtown Austin on "The Drag" for the last few years.

Credit: Ryan Chandler
Photo credit: Ryan Chandler

However, things are now looking up for Carter thanks to some unexpected attention following a tweet from Ryan Chandler, who is journalism and government student at UT. You see, Chandler has made it his personal mission to help the homeless man after getting to know him while working on a school assignment.

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With the help of the Office of Admissions and countless hours of work over the last few months, Chandler has helped Carter secure his transcripts and get readmitted to UT.

"We did it! After 6 years of panhandling on the Drag, David Carter has been readmitted to UT Austin and will resume his degree this week," Chandler tweeted Sunday morning.

Roughly 35 years ago, Carter completed 87 hours of credit toward a studio art degree with only a semester left to go, the Alcalde reported. The College of Fine Arts recently agreed to partner Carter with an advisor to figure out a path to a degree, tuition fees and more. The university also reportedly agreed to pay for his application fee, which was an obstacle for Carter and prevented him from re-applying in the past.

So, where did things go wrong?

Chandler explained Carter developed schizophrenia later in life and had a history of addiction.

"He attributes the end of his collegiate career to an intoxicated accident in which he severely damaged his hand and lost his drawing ability and with it, his passion and his major," Chandler said. "His hope for a degree was replaced with destitution, disability and dependence, a fateful combination that left Carter on the street, just as it does to so many other homeless individuals."

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Carter was able to start getting his life back in order about six years ago when Caritas of Austin, which is a nonprofit that helps the homeless, stepped in to help, the Alcade reported.

With a second chance comes a new look as well. Carter received a new haircut, a good shave and a nice shirt as he prepared to visit with a UT professor in April, Chandler shared via Twitter.

It will be exciting to see where life takes Carter after all the help he has received from the UT community, but we have a feeling he will be putting his writing skills to the test.

After he walks the stage, Carter told the Alcalde his dream "is to write a great novel. I've been writing for 30 years now."

Not only will Carter get the chance to go back to school, but he will also be able to do it without paying a dime. Chandler added that a "Texas Ex" has pledged to pay Carter's full tuition.

WATCH: More than 7,000 students graduate from UT Austin


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