Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Abbott joins College AFFORDABILITY Discussion

"The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower is servant to the lender."
Proverbs 22:7

Obviously, Higher ed. has been the issue on which we've differed most strongly with Governor Abbott (*), but this announcement leaves us cautiously optimistic:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott jumped into the college affordability debate Monday, announcing the formation of a new tri-agency task force that will examine this issue. The task force will also review job creation concerns to best address the state’s workforce needs and goals.

“Understanding the needs of job creators is paramount to ensuring that Texas remains the top state for business expansion and relocation,” Abbott said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “This past session, we made economic strides by investing in our workforce and further reducing taxes and regulations. By establishing this initiative, the State of Texas now seeks to ensure that the needs of both its growing workforce as well as new and existing businesses are met and each are prepared to successfully operate in an ever-changing 21st century economy.”

Led by Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Commissioner Raymund Paredes, and Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Commissioner Andres Alcantar, the task force aims to identify ways to make college more affordable, among other charges in the initiative.

The issue of college affordablity remains a high priority to state lawmakers. Recently, the University of Texas System Board of Regents voted to raise tuition system wide at 13 of the 14 universities they control. In response, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and State Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, critical of the increase, authored a letter to university presidents and chancellors. The lawmakers pointed out that the state passed a budget which dramatically increased higher education funding during the 84th legislative session.

“It is discouraging to see Texas higher education institutions seek to increase the financial burden faced by students and their families rather than developing methods to cut institutional costs. Student debt is already at an all-time high, with students taking lnger to complete their degrees and incurring a greater amount of debt each year,” Patrick and Seliger wrote.

In 2003, the Texas Legislature gave state universities the ability to set their own tuition fees and rate increases. The jointly authored letter requests that these top university officials submit a host of data to Patrick and Seliger, including tuition rates and fee increases plus college completion rates as far back as 2002-03 for review.

In addition to exploring ways to make college more affordable for families and help students enter the workforce more quickly with marketable skills, the Governor’s initiative assigns the three commissioners with tasks that include identifying local workforce needs and developing models that support those workforce needs, with an emphasis on career and technical education (CTE) and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Read the whole thing here.


* -- And don't forget we called this tuition hike.

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