The Budget Puzzle–Part Four

Almost 1.5 million students were enrolled in credit courses at a Texas college or university in Fall 2011—more than 9 out of 10 of them at a public institution. Public community and other two-year colleges alone enroll more than half of all students in the state. Higher education funding, including financial aid, is 15 percent of the General Revenue budget in 2012-13, down slightly from its 17 percent share of the 2002-03 state budget. Meanwhile, statewide average tuition, mandatory fees, and other college and course expenses have shot up by 90% between the Fall 2003 and Fall 2011 semesters, making financial aid even more important for low-income families.
Yet the 2011 session resulted in a $126 million cut to the Higher Education Coordinating Board’s financial aid grants, and higher education institutions took a $1.4 billion General Revenue current services cut.
For 2014-15, the Higher Education Coordinating Board recommends

  • a $605 million increase to cover formula-driven growth, primarily for higher enrollment.
  • Another $234 million would be needed to implement outcome-based funding at community colleges, and;
  • $120 million in exceptional items would make it possible to serve more students through TEXAS Grants and physician and teacher loan repayment programs.

After an $86 million General Revenue cut to the THECB baseline, the minimum net increase needed to get public higher education back on track is $870 million.

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