From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 30, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113

Lawmakers Provide $10 Million for College Scholarships for High-Performing Students

AUSTIN, Tx. -- State lawmakers sent to the governor a budget proposal that includes an additional $10 million for college scholarships for high-performing high school graduates. State Senators Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio), who requested the additional scholarship funds, said the money will help thousands of Texas students attend college.

"Every Texan deserves the chance to earn a college education," Ellis said. "These additional funds will open the doors to a college education to thousands of hard-working Texas students."

The additional scholarship funding won legislative approval as part of Senate Bill 1898, an emergency appropriations bill that serves as a companion to House Bill 1, the state's budget. The supplemental appropriations measure expands the current Texas Tuition Assistance Program by $5 million each year of the 1998-1999 fiscal biennium. The TTAG Program provides tuition and fees to eligible students who maintain an 80-average or above in high school.

"We have been working to find the money to fund the Texas Tuition Assistance Grant Program ever since it was created in 1990," said Senator Wentworth. "These are the first significant dollars set aside for this program, and they will return to us many times over in a greatly improved educational system for Texas."

The state appropriations bill contains $684 million in funding for higher education -- a 6.7 percent increase over the 1996-1997 levels.

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 between 1985 and 1996.

College graduates earn approximately 73 percent more in their lifetime than those without a college degree. College graduates spend about $1.4 million more than high school graduates and pay more than twice as much in Texas sales taxes, $101,592 compared to $42,405.