From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
July 5, 1999
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Governor Bush Signs HOPE Scholarship Bill

(Austin) //Governor George W. Bush today signed into law legislation by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), to create the TEXAS Grant program, a HOPE Scholarship program which will provide thousands of Texas students the opportunity to get a college education.

"Today is a special day for Texas families," said Senator Ellis. "In the 21st Century, education will be the deciding factor in whether our children reach their full potential. With the creation of the TEXAS Grant program, we will ensure that our children -- if they work hard -- will have the opportunity to go to college."

HB 713 creates a $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. "By investing in TEXAS Grants, we are investing in our children's future and ensuring they have a shot at the American Dream. 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."

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.

Producing more college graduates is a necessity because, today, a college diploma is the dividing line between the haves and the have-nots. College graduates, on average, will earn a quarter of a million dollars more over their lifetimes than those with only a high school diploma. The need for greater levels of education will only increase because the engine driving Texas' remarkable economic growth has been high technology industries such as computers, telecommunications, engineering, petrochemicals and energy. As high tech industries an even larger role in Texas' economic success, those without a higher level of education will be left behind.

Background on TEXAS Grants/HOPE Scholarships