This session, the Economic Opportunity team has been tracking legislation that will affect financial aid, developmental and adult basic education, and career readiness and skills development.
We are closely monitoring attempts to limit financial grant aid to students who need it most. Even though current financial aid programs expand access for many low-income students to enroll in higher education, Texas has never made the full commitment to fully fund financial aid programs to reach all students with financial need. Further reducing state need-based financial aid to low-income Texans will block college access for thousands of aspiring college students and increase student loan dependence in our state.
Between 2003 and 2011, the Texas Legislature consistently increased funding for TEXAS Grants—the state’s major need-based grant program. In 2011, however, the Legislature cut state financial aid programs by 15 percent, with the TEXAS Grant program taking a 10 percent hit. These cuts are continued in the current proposed House and Senate budgets and do not account for cost or enrollment growth.
During this session we are also supporting the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s exceptional item request of $163.7 million for TEXAS Grants and encouraging legislators to increase financial aid funding for community college and transfer students to further promote college access and success.
Other important financial aid policy goals this session:
- Preserve the B-On-Time program at 4-year universities and support the transfer of B-On-Time and TEXAS Grant funds for community colleges to the Texas Educational Opportunity Program (TEOG); and
- Support for a student loan counseling requirement for state loan programs to help students understand the complexities of their loans and avoid default.
The Economic Opportunity Team is also working to support reforming adult basic education to build stronger career pathways to good jobs and careers. This effort includes stronger oversight and data collection to track student performance and outcomes, while promoting a more cohesive adult basic education system that connects Texans with career and postsecondary opportunities more effectively and efficiently.
If the Legislature is serious about increasing the knowledge and skills of the Texas workforce in order to meet the economic challenges of the 21st century, we need greater investment in higher education that helps high-need populations gain access.