Financial Aid Set to Rise

A Special Session of the Texas Legislature has been called by Gov. Greg Abbott for July 18, with property taxes and bathrooms on the tentative agenda. (The preceding sentence seems peculiar somehow.)  More information on these topics and how they might affect community colleges, will be posted here subsequently.

For now, it is not difficult to find criticism of the recent Regular Session (including here), but 2017 lawmakers did approve appropriations to raise the level of financial aid for students. You can read about it here, in an article by Matthew Watkins, in the Texas Tribune.

A key passage:

This year, about 15 percent of students who were eligible for a Toward Excellence, Access and Success Grant, or TEXAS Grant, didn’t get one. Next year, state officials say, that share should be cut in half.

“We will be able to fund about 92 percent of eligible students,” said Raymund Paredes, the state’s higher education commissioner. “We would love to be at 100 percent, but we’ll settle for 92.”

This is certainly welcome news. But Texas has not joined the list of states offering bold initiatives of “free” tuition, or upping its financial commitment to allow more students to attend college full-time. The latter approach in some locations has drawn a great deal of attention for improved graduation rates. Full-time attendance is not possible for everyone—and expensive to pull off in a large scale—but it’s one of the more promising strategies for student success. As for free tuition, it gets complicated in terms of measurement, but worthy of watching carefully.

Not a lot of boldness coming out of Texas these days, except for the weird kind.