Tuition Equalization Grant cuts have big impact on Texas Baptist schools

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Proposed cuts in the Texas Tuition Equalization Grant program could have a major impact on Texas Baptist universities and many of their students, administrators at several schools noted.

The state-funded Tuition Equalization Grant—a need-based financial-aid program designed to help offset some tuition costs of Texas students who attend private universities—could face cuts of up to 41 percent as Texas lawmakers struggle with the state budget.

Of the $101.8 million in TEG funds allocated for 2011, more than $29 million benefits students in universities related to the Baptist General Convention of Texas, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

By far, the largest Texas Baptist recipient of TEG aid for students is Baylor University, drawing $12.3 million this year. As a point of comparison, the Baptist General Convention of Texas provides about $2.8 million to Baylor annually.

More than one-fourth of the undergraduates at Baylor University receive TEG assistance, said Tommye Lou Davis, Baylor vice president for constituent engagement. They include a significant number of first-generation college students and ethnic minorities, she added.

Cuts to the program would undercut Baylor’s efforts to increase ethnic and socio-economic diversity among its student body, Davis noted.

At $1.35 million this year, Howard Payne University receives the smallest amount of any BGCT-related schools, but that aid has a huge impact on a student population where more than 40 percent receive TEG assistance, said Brad Johnson, senior vice president for institutional advancement at the Brownwood school.

“These are tough times down there (in Austin), but I hope the legislators will realize what a bargain this program is for the state,” Johnson said. “The amount per student in the program is less than half what would be appropriated if that student were to transfer to a state institution.”

The average Tuition Equalization Grant in fiscal year 2009 was slightly more than 45 percent the estimated taxpayer contribution for each fulltime student in a state university, according to the Independent College and Universities of Texas website.

“In fiscal year 2009, if TEG recipients had enrolled at state universities, Texas taxpayers would have paid more than $232 million, or more than twice the appropriation for TEG,” the website states.

About 450 students a year at East Texas Baptist University—more than one-third of the total student population—benefit from the TEG program, which provides about $1.5 million in funding, said Tommy Young, the school’s director of financial aid.

“It would be a real disadvantage to students if the grants were cut,” Young said.

This academic year, Dallas Baptist University received more than $3.86 million in TEG funds for 1,150 students out of a total population of 2,949 fulltime students, said Lee Ferguson, the school’s director of financial aid.

At the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, 1,032 students currently receive the grants, and another 1,025 qualified but did not receive the grant this year due to limited funds, said Ron Brown, director of financial aid at the Belton school. The program provided $3.9 million for UMHB students this year.

“The average household income for our students who receive TEG assistance is $43,715. This is not a rich man’s grant,” Brown said.


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