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Commissioner: “Reinvent Higher Education”

“We’re going to have to substantially reinvent higher education,” Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes said during a recent media conference call. “If budget [legislative] cuts are significant, I think institutions are going to have to worry about whether they invest more money in operations and instruction, or whether they invest more money for financial aid for their students.”

It’s covered in the Dallas Morning News by Lauren McGaughy, as appears in the Denton Record-Chronicle.

The article deals mostly with looming cuts to financial aid programs, and some of the piece may seem more pertinent to universities than community colleges. However, it is not difficult to infer implications for two-year schools. As reported here earlier, public universities are scrambling to replace requested funds presently missing in the House and Senate budget bills with “special items”—a time-honored stratagem that works in some districts and not in others. Funding can be very arbitrary with this approach.

If nothing changes, community colleges could find themselves in more difficult circumstances than exists already. Two-year college leaders are presently very concerned about funding levels in the current instructional formula. If financial aid programs are slashed, many students will not go to college at all, but many who intended to enter a university will switch to a local community college, due to lower tuition and fees. Please read the article for details.

The practical effect, if nothing changes in the next biennial budget, is that community colleges may have to do more with less state funding. The two principal mitigating variables are tuition and local property taxes, but these sources of revenue are extremely limited.

TCCTA members are encouraged to contact their representatives and senators, urging community college funding levels that are adequate for forthcoming challenges. More specific information can be found in this document, where TCCTA has unified its recommendations with the Texas Association of Community Colleges and the Community College Association of Texas Trustees. The document can be easily printed and distributed.

Here is a link to find out “Who Represents Me?”