From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
March 25, 1999
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senate Passes Texas HOPE Grant Program

(Austin) // The Texas State Senate today approved legislation by Senator Rodney Ellis (D Houston), to create the Texas HOPE Grant program, which will provide thousands of Texas students the opportunity to get a college education.

"This is a tremendous victory for Texas families," said Senator Ellis. "The Texas HOPE Grant program sends our children the signal that, if you work hard, you will have the opportunity to go to college."

The Senate approved SB 37, a $100 million Texas HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Grant Program, which will provide tuition and fees to high school students who have completed college preparatory courses in high school and maintain a 2.5 GPA or better in college. It has garnered widespread bipartisan support and has been endorsed by Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry. It is based on a similar program in Georgia that provides scholarships to any student with a "B" average.

The funding will create nearly 20,000 HOPE grants for Texas students. Because funds are limited, students must have an estimated family income of $25,000 or less to be eligible. If the legislature decides to appropriate more funds, families earning up to $40,000 would be eligible for a Texas HOPE Grant program. Senators compared its potential impact on Texas to the successful national GI Bill passed after World War II..

"The GI Bill helped thousands of veterans get a shot at a college education they otherwise would not have had, and helped create the most-educated, most successful generation our nation has ever seen," said Ellis. "On the doorstep of the 21st Century, Texas desperately needs its own GI Bill to give all of our children the opportunity to go to college."

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.

"By investing in Texas HOPE Grants, we are investing in our children's future," said Ellis. "We must continue to work to ensure that all children who work hard have the opportunity to go to college."

Background on Texas HOPE Grants

Other states yearly scholarship/grant programs are doing more:
State Programs Population Spending per Capita
Florida -- $120 million. 14.9 million. $8.05
Georgia -- $175 million. 7.6 million. $23.03
Kentucky -- $7 million. 3.9 million. $1.79
Louisiana -- $36 million. 4.4 million. $8.34
Maryland-- $25 million. 5.1 million. $4.90
South Carolina --$50 million. 3.8 million. $13.16
Texas -- $50 million (avg). 19.7 million. $2.54