Statement from Senator Rodney Ellis in response to recent reports of the shortage of B on time funding
"This is not exactly a shock. We knew heading into the legislative session tuition deregulation was causing the cost of higher education to skyrocket and our financial aid programs were under funded. When it comes to investing in higher education -- whether we are talking about tuition deregulation, or assisting deserving Texas students and families with financial aid through TEXAS Grants or B on Time -- we have broken our promise, and failed to appropriate adequate funding to provide our students the educational opportunities they've earned. We've had the money. In fact, we had a so called surplus this session. We obviously just had other priorities. Tax cuts for the wealthy took precedence over opening the doors to college for middle and working class Texas families.
The foreseeable result, fewer and fewer families can afford to send their children to college.
Texas faces a looming crisis: while our diverse, high tech economy relies on a highly-skilled, highly educated workforce, we rank near the bottom in the nation at producing college graduates. We are simply not doing the job to address this crisis and, unless the state significantly increases investment in TEXAS Grants and controlling tuition costs, more and more students and families will be priced out of a college education, further jeopardizing our social and economic future."
To open the doors to college to more young Texans, in 1999 Senator Ellis passed legislation creating the TEXAS Grants program. TEXAS Grants provide tuition and fees to students who have taken the Advanced or Recommended curriculum in high school.
In 2000, the first year of the program, nearly 11,000 students received a TEXAS Grant to pay for college; by 2006, 161,000 students had received 327,000 TEXAS Grants to help achieve the dream of college. Unfortunately, that success will be short-lived and TEXAS Grants will wither on the vine unless Texas takes dramatic steps today.
Senator Ellis filed SB 1176 this past session to fully fund the TEXAS Grant program, and ensure that all 188,000 eligible Texas students receive a grant to go to college. The bill never received a hearing."