Funding for grant for private school tuition may be cut

    263
    print

    More than 1,000 TCU students rely on grant money from the Texas Equalization Grant to assist them in paying for college, but the grant is at risk for funding cuts because of Texas’ budget deficit.

    Junior secondary education major Meagan Hall-Casey said she was a recipient of the TEG. She said she was concerned about the possibility of the grant being cut because it would stop both herself and others from attending their dream schools.

    “I don’t want them to take away or cut the grant because I rely on that money to stay here at TCU, and I think a lot of other students are like me and need that money,” Casey said.

    Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid Mike Scott said the TEG was a huge source of assistance for many TCU students. A total of 1,352 TCU students received the grant this year for a total of $5.6 million, he said.

    Scott said the current state budget indicates a 41 percent cut in funding and limits the grant to renewals only. This would keep current TCU student recipients at the same level of support but would not provide any new awards for freshmen or new students for the 2011-12 school year. He also said it was possible that could change as the bill works its way through the state legislature.

    To lobby to keep the grant alive, Scott said Chancellor Victor Boschini, Dean of Students Susan Adams, Vice Chancellor for Government Affairs Larry Lauer and he will take a group of 24 students to Austin to meet with the state legislature on Tuesday to discuss the importance of the TEG program.

    Adams said the university made a trip to Austin every year but that this specific trip would focus on the TEG.

    The original intent of the TEG program was to ease the pressure on the public university system by allowing students to consider private schools that had the capacity to enroll more students, Scott said. This way, it was more cost-effective than having to expand the public university system to accommodate more students.

    “TEG is an easy target for some politicians who argue that state funding should not support private institutions,” Scott said. “We have to keep reminding everyone that the grant helps students, not universities.”

    Student Body President Jackie Wheeler said she was one of the 24 students going on the trip to voice the importance of the TEG for future students.

    “The TEG grant has changed the lives of many of our fellow students, and without it, our campus would lose students that are part of the reason TCU is so great,” Wheeler said.

    Boschini said the grant not only helped students who want to go to TCU but also saved the state money in the long run.

    “If you took all the students on TEG grants and all of a sudden put them in public schools overnight, the state could not afford to educate all of them,” he said. “So if you are a Texas resident, it actually saves the state money.”

    Boschini also said that besides saving money, the grant allowed students to have more of a choice in the school in Texas they wanted to attend.

    “I think TEG is not just important for TCU students, but for all Texas colleges,” Boschini said. “People who have the TEG grant are able to attend private colleges, and it lets them go to the college of their first choice.”

    Junior nursing major Kelly Nixon, another recipient of the TEG, said the grant has allowed to her to go to TCU. She said that without it, her future would be in jeopardy.

    “The main reason that I am at TCU is because of grant money and scholarship money,” Nixon said. “I have a lot of grants and that is one of them, so if they were to take that away, I don’t know if I would be able to stay at TCU. When they raised tuition last year, I almost had to leave, and then that grant is basically what saved me and let me stay here.”

    Boschini said he couldn’t predict the future, but if the grant suffered cuts, there could be adverse affects to potential students.

    “I think that it would definitely affect them [potential TCU students], and that’s what I worry about.”

    Extra Info

    • TEG is now almost evenly divided between Pell Grant recipients and “middle-income” students whose parents earn less than $50,000.
    • TEG is less than 1 percent of all the funds appropriated for higher education in Texas.
    • The average TEG grant is about 45 percent of what the state spends to subsidize each FTE student at four-year state universities.
    • Graduation rates for independent institutions and TEG recipients are higher than those of public universities and TEXAS Grant recipients.
    • TEG maximum award amounts for both ordinary need and exceptional need are lower than TEXAS Grant award amounts.

    Information courtesy of Mike Scott.