Early Graduation Scholarship Program enhancements meet Senate approval
AUSTIN, TX--With full Senate approval, the EARLY GRADUATION SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM received a legislative boost yesterday through a bill carried by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. that would increase student participation and save money.
"Currently, the Scholarship Program provides $1,000 scholarships for tuition to those who graduate within 36 consecutive months," said Sen Lucio, "saving money for themselves, their parents and the taxpayers."
The Program, funded entirely by the state savings generated by students who graduate early from the public school system, is currently underutilized. Only about 4,000 graduates per year take advantage of the program out of a total of 215,000.
Other problems with the current program are that students who graduate early in their fourth year of high school are disqualified from participating, and the scholarship can be applied only towards tuition but not fees, which limits its usefulness to students with other tuition scholarships. Another possibility is that school districts may not be encouraging students to apply for these scholarships because they lose funding when a student graduates early.
House Bill 1882 (by Rep. Deshotel) addresses the shortcomings of the program by:
1. Increasing the scholarship amounts up to $3,000.
2. Providing greater accessibility to the scholarships, depending on whether the student graduated within 36 months, 41 months, or earned college credits.
3. Covering required fees, not just tuition.
4. Stipulating that the recipients of Early Graduation Scholarships must use or lose the funds within six years, and they must actually graduate within the required time frames.
5. Distributing some funds to school districts who graduate students early in order to offset their state funding losses.
The bill was also amended to require that a recipient must graduate with a recommended or advanced high school curriculum instead of the minimum curriculum.
Sen. Lucio added, "These new provisions will make the Early Graduation Scholarship Program more attractive to high school students and school districts, increase the number of scholarships available, and create some savings to the state."
Note: Staff member handling legislation is Senior Policy Analyst Perla Cavazos. The House must now concur with the changes to the bill before it is sent to the Governor.