Wednesday to be TEXAS Grant Day at the Capitol
(Austin)// Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) has filed SR 191 designating Wednesday, February 23, 2005 as Texas Grant Day at the Texas Capitol.
In 1999, Senator Ellis passed legislation creating the TEXAS (Toward Excellence, Access & Success) Grant program, providing tuition and fees for college for qualified students. In its first five years, 208,000 TEXAS Grants have been awarded to 115,000 students, and the program has grown from $100 million in 1999, to $320 million per biennium. Overall, more than $500 million has been appropriated since the program's inception.
"The TEXAS Grant program is a significant down payment on our children's future," said Ellis. "By investing in TEXAS Grants, we are investing in our children's future and ensuring they have a shot at the American Dream. Just as the GI Bill created the most highly educated, highly skilled generation our nation has ever seen, the TEXAS Grant program is becoming the Texas GI Bill for the 21st Century."
The TEXAS Grant Program provides tuition and fees to high school students who have completed college preparatory courses in high school and maintain a 2.0 GPA or better in their first year of college. It is based similar to Georgia's groundbreaking HOPE Scholarship program that provides scholarships to any student with a AB average.
Texas is already behind the curve in preparing college graduates for the next century. Today, Texas ranks 45th in the nation in percent of high school students enrolling in college. The state would need to produce an additional 16,100 college graduates simply to meet the national average, an increase of over 20 percent.
Producing more college graduates is a necessity because, today, a college diploma is the dividing line between the haves and the have-nots. College graduates, on average, will earn a quarter of a million dollars more over their lifetimes than those with only a high school diploma. The need for greater levels of education will only increase because the engine driving Texas' remarkable economic growth has been high technology industries such as computers, telecommunications, engineering, petrochemicals and energy. As high tech industries play an even larger role in Texas' economic success, those without a higher level of education will be left behind.