From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
April 1, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis Proposes New Texas HOPE Scholarship Instant Ticket Lottery Game to Provide Free Tuition to High-performing Texas Students

AUSTIN, Tx. -- State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today proposed creating a new Texas HOPE Scholarship instant ticket lottery game to fund free tuition grants for high-performing Texas students. Ellis' Texas HOPE Scholarship Program (Senate Bill 180), which would provide free college tuition to eligible high school graduates who maintain a B-average and agree to participate in community service, is currently pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

"Every Texan deserves the chance to earn a college education," Ellis said. "Creating a new Texas HOPE Scholarship instant ticket game would open the doors to a college education for thousands of hard-working Texas students."

Ellis said he wants to direct the Texas Lottery Commission to establish, market and advertise a HOPE Scholarship instant ticket game in which all net proceeds would be placed in the Texas HOPE Scholarship Tuition Fund. The proposal would provide revenue for the Texas HOPE Scholarship Program without resulting in a negative fiscal impact on the state budget.

According to the Texas Lottery Commission, in fiscal year 1996, instant ticket games generated more than $2.1 billion in sales. The two most popular instant ticket games -- Cactus Cash and Scratchman -- have generated more than $500 million in sales.

Ellis said the Texas HOPE Scholarship Program is based on a similar program in Georgia which has provided free college tuition for almost 200,000 students since 1993 and is paid for using lottery funds. The Texas HOPE Scholarship Program would build on the Georgia program by requiring students to perform community service in return for their tuition scholarships. Students who work an average of 10 hours a week, students who are parents or who have certain family obligations will be exempt from the community service requirement.

"The idea behind the Texas HOPE Program is to underscore that students are expected to give something back to their communities for what they receive," Ellis said. "We want to strike a bargain, trading more opportunity for more responsibility."

Texas Higher Education Facts:

Texas currently trails the nation by 22.5 percent in producing college graduates. The attendance rate at four-year universities is almost 14 percent below the national average, and about one-half of those who enter a community college or university will not graduate. Texas students receive only 60 percent of aid for which they qualify, and the state's investment in higher education for each student has declined by 24 percent in constant dollars since 1985.