AUSTIN (Nexstar) — State lawmakers are considering an overhaul of how Texas distributes funding to community colleges across the state.
On Friday, the Texas House of Representatives Appropriations Committee held a hearing to discuss access and affordability of higher education.
This included testimony from Higher Education Commissioner Harrison Keeler, who also chairs the Texas Commission on Community Funding for the college.
Established in the eighty-seventh legislature, the commission is tasked with evaluating how the state distributes funds to community colleges. It just published the first draft of the recommendations ahead of Monday’s meeting.
“Currently, there is an allotment method that is basically based on the so-called contact hours, what the enrollment looks like, at a certain point at the beginning of each semester, and then it is used as a kind of basis for the credits,” Ray Martinez of the Texas Association of Community Colleges explained on Friday.
This is in addition to the basic amount distributed to each school.
Now, they’re suggesting a new way based on student scores to calculate how much each school gets.
“Producing high-value credentials, for example, could be a credential, a college degree, a workforce education credential, a first-level or second-level certification,” Martinez explained.
The new operation will also catalyze programs needed to close the workforce gaps in the community.
“It’s going to depend on much-needed career paths, right? So if we’re in an age where we really need more, not just nurses, but maybe even phlebotologists, people who actually draw blood in the lab, for example, then we have to stimulate Or provide funding for community colleges to be able to produce those kinds of credentials,” Martinez said.
In addition, the committee recommends increasing the amount of state financial assistance to students attending community colleges.
Currently, the state can only provide assistance to 28% of eligible students under the Texas Educational Opportunities Scholarship Program.
“Commissioner Harrison Keeler spoke at the hearing this morning about the importance of trying to move funding for TEOG to community college students, which is much higher than just 28% of capacity to fund and aiming for at least 70%,” Martinez said, adding he was optimistic but that’s just the beginning. to the legislative process.
Austin Community College issued a statement to KXAN about the proposal, saying, “ACC hopes that the recommendations of the Community College Funding Committee will create more avenues for education and workforce success for Central Texas. In particular, recommendations that reward student achievement in urgently needed workforce programs and funding Outcome-based issues are issues that community colleges and the ACC have long supported.”
The statement continues, “Here in Central Texas, we also recognize the importance of ensuring that the ACC remains accessible to all. In this sense, we are encouraged by the Commission’s extended goal of increasing student participation in the Texas Opportunity Scholarship program to 70 percent of eligible students.”
The next legislative session begins in January when lawmakers will be able to consider the committee’s recommendations.