Top photo: From left are Maria Ferrier (Texas A&M University, San
Antonio), UTSA junior Christel Schlager, grant recipient; UTSA
President Ricardo Romo; UTSA sophomore Gonzalo Castano, grant
recipient; and UTSA junior Mayllyn Luz, grant recipient.
Bottom photo: Rep. Mike Villarrreal
Villarreal announces $186M to make college more affordable
(June 23, 2009)--State Rep. Mike Villarreal announced June 23 a $186 million increase in state funding to make college more affordable in Texas. The announcement of the appropriation for the TEXAS Grants program was made at a press conference at The University of Texas at San Antonio Downtown Campus.
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Villarreal led the successful effort to increase TEXAS Grants funding by $186 million. The Texas Legislature recently allocated $614.3 million, a 44 percent increase over previous funding. The financial aid program will help 36,000 additional students in 2010-2011.
The point person on financial aid on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, Villarreal was joined at the press conference by UTSA students who described the positive effect of the TEXAS Grants program on their lives and education paths. The students were junior art major Christel Schlager, sophomore biology and pre-med major Gonzalo Castano and junior public relations major Mayllyn Luz.
"In these difficult economic times, I'm proud that we're investing in education, giving more students an opportunity to succeed, while improving our long-term economic position," said Villarreal.
Villarreal was accompanied at the event by UTSA President Ricardo Romo, Maria Hernandez Ferrier (executive director and CEO of Texas A&M University, San Antonio), Rick Hernandez (director of financial services for Alamo Colleges) and Rep. Joe Farias.
An analysis by the Legislative Budget Board determined that TEXAS Grants is successful at improving students' persistence and success in college. The Legislature's Select Commission on Higher Education concluded that Texas is not globally competitive and faces a downward spiral in both quality-of-life and economic competitiveness if it fails to educate more of its growing population.
In 2008, a national report on higher education gave Texas an "F" on a college affordability report card, based on the average amount of family income dedicated to college tuition after financial aid. While Texas has made incredible investments in financial aid for students over the last 10 years, only 50 percent of the students eligible for the TEXAS Grants program are currently funded. This year that is 83,000 students.