NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 6, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113

Ellis Amendment Expands Texas Prepaid Tuition Program to Include Graduate School

AUSTIN, Tx. -- State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today won Senate approval for a proposal to expand the state's prepaid tuition program to include graduate studies. The measure, which passed the Senate as an amendment to House Bill 9 by Rep. Mark Stiles (D-Beaumont) and Senator Gonzalo Barrientos (D-Austin), would allow participants in the Texas Tomorrow Fund to use their prepaid tuition balances for a fifth year of undergraduate studies or graduate work.

"We want to provide families participating in the Texas Tomorrow Fund with the option to use the funds for five-year undergraduate programs and graduate studies," said Senator Ellis. "Allowing prepaid balances to be used for additional course work will help Texans learn more and earn more."

According to a recent report by the Texas State Occupational Information Coordinating Committee, the demand for master's degrees in the job market will increase 18 percent by the year 2000. In addition, the Texas Challenged report by Texas A&M University found that persons with graduate degrees will earn $700,000 more in their lifetimes than those with bachelor's degrees.

"The graduate tuition option will expand opportunities for students and help them succeed in a challenging 21st century economy," Ellis said. "The measure will help ensure that Texas has the best and the brightest workforce in the nation."

The Texas Tomorrow Fund allows individuals to pre-pay college tuition for Texas colleges and universities at today's prices. Currently, prepaid tuition contracts may be used only for undergraduate tuition. The Ellis amendment would allow students who work their way through school or who take accelerated course work to defer part of their tuition for graduate education.

"The use of prepaid tuition balances for additional credit hours would be available to all contract purchasers -- past and present," said Ellis. "The plan allows Texas Tomorrow Fund participants to roll the cost of graduate tuition into their prepaid tuition payments."

For more information on the Texas Tomorrow Fund, call the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts at 1-800-445-GRAD to request a brochure.

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