The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Texas scholarship funds face cuts

Students could be forced to pay difference

Alicia Frias, senior psychology and foreign language major, could be forced to pay out of her pocket or be obligated to take out an extra loan.

Margaux Gillman, junior business major, would end up having to work more, which would detract time from the organizations in which she is involved at SMU.

With tuition on the rise and funding on the verge of being reduced, sophomore economics and political science major Carl Dorvil’s decision to study one more year at SMU is doubtful.

The Texas Equalization Grant may be reduced as the 78th Texas Legislature scrambles to determine how to lower the Texas budget. Every two years the legislation meets for 140 days. During these legislative sessions, the lawmaking body enacts laws to provide for the health, welfare, education, environment, economic and general well-being of the citizens of Texas. Education cuts have prompted SMU to put an interest on legislation issues. SMU, along with 40 other universities, receives $82 million dollars annually in TEG funding from the state. These universities are part of Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas. This nonprofit organization has achieved numerous legislative goals to preserve and enhance the TEG program.

“I did not know what the Texas Equalization Grant was until I found the state was cutting education funds,” Frias said.

Many students may not be aware that they are recipients of the Texas Equalization Grant. According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the TEG is a state funded student financial aid program designed to help needy students pay their tuition at any approved private Texas college or university. Student financial need is determined using the FAFSA. To be eligible, a student must be a Texas resident, demonstrate needs required by the THECB, pay more tuition than is charged at public colleges or universities, not be receiving an athletic scholarship, and not be in default on a student loan. Students may receive up to $3,572 per year, depending on their financial need.

“I will be a senior next year, and of course I want to finish my education at SMU. Lowering TEG would put an extraordinary hardship on my family,” Gillman said.

Approximately 1,385 undergraduates and around 519 SMU graduates received TEG this year. Assisting a student through the TEG costs the state less than it would if the student attended a subsidized public university, according to the THECB. The average amount appropriated for a full-time student in the equivalent of a Texas public university for the 2001 fiscal year was $5,844. By comparison, the average tuition equalization grant estimated for the same year is $3,572.

Michael Novak, Executive Director of Enrollment Services and Financial Aid at SMU said, “To help reduce the cost of tuition, SMU matches $3.50 for every dollar of the TEG fund. SMU received $5.33 million in TEG funding for this year, adding up to $17 million in SMU need based grants and scholarships.”

Each private institution in Texas receives TEG funds according to need. TEG need is calculated by determining the gross need (cost of education less family contributions), less Pell grants and other categorical aid received by TEG eligible students.

For sophomore Carl Dorvil, attending another university could be an option next school year. “If I decide to stay at SMU next year, I would have to increase the amount of loans I receive,” Carl said.

Decreased funding would lower the amount of individual grant awards and allow TEG to serve fewer students. This would not help Texas independent colleges and universities to recruit and retain Texas students who might otherwise attend a Texas public college or university, or attend college out of state. To an extent, the grant makes private colleges more affordable for some citizens; it will help provide Texans with more choices among post-secondary programs.

At this time, the State Legislature has not voted on the amount of funding they will allocate for TEG. Several SMU students have already taken pro-active actions to inform their state representatives on how important TEG is for them.

“It made it personal, unlike seeing statistical numbers,” Frias said after meeting with Representative Roberto R. Alonzo.

“The few that went to Austin were speaking on behalf of those TEG recipients,” Gillman said. “Seeing and hearing our stories will make it much harder for them to vote on reducing TEG.”

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