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What do removing tuition set-asides mean for Texas families?

The Texas Republican Plan to Make College Unaffordable

Think it’s too easy for middle-income Texans to pay for college? Apparently that is the view held by Dan Patrick and Texas Senate Republicans.

Today the Texas State Senate Higher Education Committee passed Senate Bill 13—a reckless Republican sponsored bill that would drastically raise the cost of college at Texas public universities for middle-income and many other Texans.

How? The bill would remove tuition “set-asides” which are portions of tuition payments made by students at Texas public universities that are “set aside” to create grants for qualifying middle-income and other students.

Currently, Texas universities can pull no less than 15% of tuition paid by students, that can then be used to help qualifying students with their tuition through two existing programs: The Texas Public Educational Grant or the House Bill 3015 grant program.

The full tuition costs for Texas universities have skyrocketed – more than doubling over the last ten years. Removing tuition “set asides” would do real harm to students in virtually every part of state – rural, urban, small town, and big city.

The Dallas Morning News report broke down the impact on Texas universities reporting that:

  • 32% of students at Texas State (San Marcos) receive an average award of $1,163 through the Texas Grant Public Educational Grant program;
  • 37% of students at Tarleton State (Stephenville) receive $624 on average through the HB 3105 program;
  • Nearly 6,000 students at UT-Dallas (Irving) receive assistance through one of the two programs;
  • and over 8,000 students at UT-San Antonio receive grants through the programs.  

Here’s what the Dallas Morning News said removing tuition set asides would do to Texas college students and their families:

If lawmakers roll back about $324 million a year in earmarked grants, more than 121,000 students from poor and middle-income families alike would each lose thousands of dollars in aid per year.

[…]

About 31,000 students from extremely poor families, earning less than $10,000 a year, would lose funding. The poorest of the poor would lose the most aid — nearly 50,000 grants totaling about $80 million.

Still, cuts would also hurt more than 18,000 students whose parents earn $60,000 a year or more, well above the state’s median household income. Those families would lose about $55 million in aid, data show.

So, the data is clear – removing tuition set-asides would increase the cost of college, making it even harder for middle-income families to send their capable and qualified kids to a university in Texas.

Texas Democrats are fighting back hard against Republican efforts to kill the set-aside program, so the battle lines have been drawn.

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