NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
March 21, 2000
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis Unveils Billboard Campaign to Raise Awareness of TEXAS Grant Program
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AUSTIN, TX -- State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today unveiled a series of billboards in Houston, the next phase in his effort to raise awareness of the new TEXAS Grant Program.

"The TEXAS Grant Program can open the door to opportunity for thousands of Texans, but only if they know the program exists," said Ellis. "Tens of thousands of Houstonians will pass these billboards everyday. We believe parents who see these signs, think about their children's future and call to find out how they can get a TEXAS Grant."

Last session, Senator Rodney Ellis authored legislation creating the $100 million TEXAS (Toward EXcellence, Access, & Success) Grant Program, which will provide 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 "B" average. The funding will create as many as 10,000 - 11,000 TEXAS grants for Texas students each year.

"The TEXAS Grant program is a significant down payment on our children's future," said Ellis. "The GI Bill created the most highly educated, highly skilled generation our nation has ever seen. The TEXAS Grant program will be a Texas GI Bill for the 21st Century."

Getting a college education is the dividing line between the haves and the have-nots in our society, and its importance will only increase in the high technology, high skill economy of the 21st Century. With education so high a priority, the TEXAS Grant program will ensure that the doors of Texas colleges and universities -- and opportunity -- are open to all Texans.

Texas is already behind the curve in preparing college graduates for the next century. Today, Texas ranks 48th in the nation in percent of high school students earning a college degree. We would need to produce an additional 16,100 college graduates simply to meet the national average, an increase of over 20 percent.

Background on TEXAS Grants/HOPE Scholarships

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