NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
December 10, 1999
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis Issues Progress Report on TEXAS Grant Program
---
Harris County Schools Passing Up TEXAS Grant Funds

AUSTIN -- Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today issued a progress report on the TEXAS Grant program, a new program designed to give more Texans the opportunity to go to college.

Last session, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), created the $100 million TEXAS (Toward EXcellence, Access, & Success) Grant Program, which provides 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 similar to Georgia's groundbreaking HOPE Scholarship program that provides scholarships to any student with a "B" average.

According to the Higher Education Coordinating Board, 10,000 - 11,000 students are eligible for TEXAS Grants during the 1999-2000 school year. Thus far, 8,258* students have received awards, totaling $14.3 million statewide. In Harris County, 927 students have been awarded a total of $1.3 million. Texas Southern University has funded 530 TEXAS Grants at $530,000, and the University of Houston has funded 262 TEXAS Grants totaling $573,000.

"Overall, I am pleased with the progress Texas has made at this stage in implementing the TEXAS Grants Program," said Senator Ellis. "The TEXAS Grant program is a significant down payment on our children's future, by opening the door to opportunity for thousands Texans who otherwise would not have been able to go to college."

Unfortunately, some Houston area schools have turned down over $1 million in scholarship funds. In fact, $1 million of the $3.7 million in TEXAS Grants that have not yet been allocated statewide, have been returned by Houston area schools. The University of Houston has spent only 43% of the $1.2 million allocated for scholarships and, instead, returned over $743,000 to the state to distribute to other schools. Houston Community College used only 11% of their allotted $351,000 in funds, returning $313,000 to the state. Texas Southern University, on the other hand, has used 91% of their funding on scholarships for students, and has requested $100,000 more for additional scholarships. San Jacinto Community College used 75% of their $25,000 of TEXAS Grant funds.

The $1.1 million returned to Texas could have potentially funded 348 additional TEXAS Grants at the University of Houston and 360 additional TEXAS Grants at Houston Community College. Instead, UH funded only 262 TEXAS Grants and HCC funded only 44.

"I am extremely disappointed in the efforts of some Houston area schools to implement the TEXAS Grant program," said Ellis. "There is an incredible need in our city to increase access to college. To send money back that was designated for scholarships in Houston is a slap in the face to all those families that want to go to college but cannot afford it. I look forward to visiting with higher education leaders in my hometown to remedy this situation."

TEXAS GRANT ELIGIBILITY FACTS

  1. A Texas public or private high school graduate completes the recommended or advanced (honors) preparatory course work (e.g. advanced English, integrated physics and chemistry, computer science).
  2. A TEXAS Grant is awarded based on the student's overall financial ability to cover the customary cost of attendance (tuition, fees, books, room, board, transportation). TEXAS Grant awards are equal to the average tuition and mandatory fees at a public university (approximately $2400), adjusted for course load.
  3. The TEXAS Grant recipient must carry a course load equal to three-fourths of a full load (9 hours), maintain a 2.0 GPA first year, 2.5 thereafter, and complete 75 percent of their course work (without falling below 9 hours) each semester. If any requirement is not met, the recipient must complete one probationary semester without the scholarship -- while fulfilling the requirements -- in order to regain the scholarship.

*all data based on preliminary figures from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Top