Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board proposes cuts to TEXAS grant
‘Retooling’ of program eligibility to combat growing number of students with need
Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 00:11
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has proposed a retooling of the Towards EXcellence, Access and Success Grant Program (TEXAS) for the next legislative session.
The THECB’s recommendation is to alter the grants, so that they are for less money, but would reach more students. The proposal is to leverage TEXAS Grants to cover academic charges for more students, and in turn would hopefully encourage more students to attend college.
Across the state, 18 out of 100 students who apply for TEXAS Grants receive the maximum amount to cover academic charges. For public universities, like Sam Houston State University, the maximum amount is $7,400 per year.
“Today, we try to maximize the award amounts to help cover tuition fees, textbooks, room and board, transportation, etc,” Dominic Chavez, THECB spokesperson, said. “If we continue to operate this way, we’ll only be able to serve 18 out of 100 students, meaning 82 percent won’t even receive money.”
Over the last five years there has been an 88 percent increase in the number of TEXAS grant eligible students. Based off the projected funding, $1.4 billion is needed over the next two years to fully fund all eligible TEXAS Grant students, which is three times the amount that is currently available.
“We want to make it to where students get more moderate award amounts to cover academic charges,” Chavez said. “This would cover up to 95 percent of needy students.”
A student’s eligibility for a TEXAS Grant is determined by the university’s financial aid office.
We’re proposing to work with universities,” Chavez said. “The universities would make local decisions. Their financial aid offices make the decisions to accommodate students and give them the flexibility to dictate students’ award amounts.”
In 2011, the Legislature cut funding for TEXAS Grants for the first time in its history and established a model for distributing the awards that favored high-performing students.
“The bottom line is: To sustain TEXAS Grant money long term, we are going to have to rethink how we use it due to the diminished funding,” Chavez said.
During the Fall 2012 semester, a total of 1,666 SHSU students received TEXAS Grants.
“I agree with the proposal to an extent,” Bob Hoadley, political science sophomore and TEXAS Grant recipient, said. “Maybe in later years they can experiment to where students get more money or more of what they deserve, but for now I say we try this out.”
The requirements for those eligible would become somewhat stricter. If the proposal passes, in order to be eligible, students would have to take 12 hours per semester instead of the current nine. Also, the lifespan of the grant would be capped at eight regular semesters rather than the current 150 credit hours.
Under the recommendation, the TEXAS Grant Program would become a program that is exclusively for university students. Funding for community colleges would come from other sources and eligibility pathways for transfer students would also be opened up.
“This is a good thing,” Rosa Lopez, senior psychology major, said. “The economy is bad. People are in need of money, but what can we do? We can either be greedy or share the wealth. It will be a good thing [if it passes] because it is help, and any help is good.”
To find out their eligibility, students should check their Banner Self Service requirements.
For more information on TEXAS Grant eligibility, visit: www.shsu.edu/~fao_www/fa_intro/grants.html#Texas.
The SHSU Financial Aid Office failed to respond to repeated attempts of contact.