Texas Still Has Time For A Much Needed Boost To Financial Aid

CPPP Leslie Helmcamp

If the Legislature is serious about preparing the Texas workforce for future jobs, we need greater investment in higher education that empowers more low-income students to enter and complete college.

This Thursday, the Texas House has the opportunity to add more funding to the state’s financial aid programs—proven tools to increase college access and success— as they debate the proposed Texas budget for the 2014-15 biennium.

The House and Senate financial aid proposals restore some of the cuts from last session but still leave financial aid funding roughly at 2010-11 levels, inadequate for a rapidly growing state.

The House Appropriations Committee passed a more generous budget proposal for Texas’ financial aid programs compared to the Senate. It includes an additional $30 million above the Senate budget for TEXAS Grants—the state’s major need-based grant program. It has $5 million in additional funds for the Texas Education Opportunity Grant for community college students and the college work study program, respectively. And it provides an additional $15 million for the Texas Equalization Grant program for students attending private universities.

83rd Legislature: Overview of Financial Aid in the Texas Budget- 2014-15

Student Financial Aid Programs

 Senate (CSSB1)

House (CSSB1)

Additional Funds in House Budget

TEXAS Grant

 $694.3M

 $724.6M

 $30.3M

Texas Education Opportunity Grant

 $24.1M

$29.1M

 $5.0M

Texas-B-On-Time

 $112.0M

 $112.0M

College Work Study

 $15.1M

 $20.1M

 $5.0M

Tuition Equalization Grant Program

 $168.8M

 $183.8M

 $15.0M

Top 10 Percent Scholarships

 $39.6M

 $39.6M

 $1.05B

 $1.11B

 $55.3M

Source: CPPP Analysis, Legislative Budget Board, House Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1; and Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1

Even though current financial aid programs expand access for many low-income students to attend college, Texas has never made the commitment to fully fund TEXAS Grants to reach all students with financial need. At its highest level of investment in 2010-11, TEXAS Grants only reached an estimated 60 percent of all eligible students, leaving many students to borrow more and work more to cover their college costs. With increases to Texas’ financial aid programs, lawmakers can reduce student loan dependence and help students succeed.

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