Lawmakers Want More Money for Financial Aid Program

Depending on what numbers you go by, it could cost more than 100-thousand dollars to attend the University of Texas for four years. The problem is most middle class families make too much money to qualify for state grants. So to ease their burden some state officials want to lower the income requirement for the Texas Grant program.

But State Senator Rodney Ellis says those changes will have a devastating impact on the number of minority students who receive grants.

"The reality is for us to close the gaps in Texas, get more people in the higher education pipeline and graduate from college.ξξThe vast majority of households in Texas, unfortunately, are households that come from that lower income bracket."

Ellis isn't against helping those families with incomes over 40-thousand dollars.ξ He believes there's enough money to help lower and middle class families with tuition.

"Texas ranks at the bottom among the ten largest states in the country in terms of the amount of state money we put into student financial aid scholarships to go to college."


Along with lowering the income eligibility requirement, other changes proposed include requiring students to score at least a 1350 on the SAT, take advanced placement courses, or rank in the top half of their class. Paula Harris is with HISD.

"We cannot raise the requirements so high that we leave out some kids who are most definitely prepared to be successful on the college level."

That depends on what college you're talking about. The University of Houston Downtown which is called a minority-majority school doesn't even require an SAT score.

Rodney Ellis says students at those types of schools need the money the most, and changes to the grant system could keep them from getting degrees and in turn getting good jobs.

Bill Stamps...KUHF Houston Public Radio News.
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