Published Online: July 10, 2002
Published in Print: July 10, 2002, as State Journal

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During these days of tin-cup state budgets and bleak economic forecasts, many programs that help college-bound students have trouble scraping together funds. But Texas, according to a recent report, seems to have a different problem: millions of dollars going unspent.

The legislature's Senate education committee recently discussed ways of changing the Texas Grant Program, not long after TheDallas Morning News reported last month that $27 million out of $120 million available to students went unused over the 2001-02 academic year. The grant cash is allocated to colleges and universities based partly on the family incomes of students who go to those schools, a spokesman for the agency that oversees the program said.

The newspaper reported that some graduating high school students and college students didn't get the money because they didn't meet the state's eligibility requirements. Those standards include following a college- preparatory curriculum while in high school and maintaining a 2.5 grade point average while in college.

To the chagrin of many scholarship backers, some of the poorest universities in Texas ended up returning big chunks of money, the newspaper found.

But some legislators say they aren't inclined to lower Texas' standards for handing out the aid. Republican Sen. Teel Bivins downplayed any shortcomings as "greatly exaggerated," and said the state needed to maintain tough qualifying standards.

The senator noted that another pool of the grant money this year already had been devoted to help students pay for summer school. When that money was factored in, the amount of unused cash dwindled to as little as $10 million, he said.

Ray Grasshoff, a spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which oversees the grant program for students and awarded $93 million over the past year, said the state could try to reduce the amount of unspent cash in the years ahead by directing more of it to schools with the greatest need.

—Sean Cavanagh

Vol. 21, Issue 42, Page 31

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