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Gov. Perry calls for higher education reforms

Plan calls for more incentive funding, 60 percent increase in financial aide and more accountability

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

February 7, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN– Gov. Rick Perry Feb. 1 proposed an ambitious higher education reform plan, directing responsible investment in the academic rigor and future success of Texas’ students and universities.

“Today I am proposing major reforms to higher education that will reward colleges and universities for every student that earns a degree, lead to more degrees awarded in critical fields like computer science and nursing and increase financial aid by $360 million,” Perry said. “If lawmakers adopt this plan, the ultimate result will be a higher education system that is more affordable, more accountable and more focused on meeting the needs of tomorrow’s global marketplace.”

The comprehensive higher education reform plan includes measures to:

• Increase higher education funding by $711 million in general revenue ($1.7 billion all funds).
• Increase financial aid by 60 percent, or $362 million.
• Fully fund the higher education operations formula.
• Substantially change the funding mechanism by eliminating “special items,” or earmarks, so funding increasingly follows students instead of schools.

“While our two largest university systems have been ranked among the best values in the country, we must do more to improve access to a college education for students of all income levels,” Perry said. “If students have proven themselves in high school and need financial assistance to better their future, Texas should pay their tuition and fees.”

Budgetary allocations will provide for an incentive program for well-performing universities and colleges, an increase in need-based and performance-driven financial aid, and the creation of alternative programs to address nursing shortages statewide.

The governor also repeated his call for transparency in budgetary expenditures today, recommending the Legislature eliminate vague lump sum appropriations to higher education institutions.

Note: Exit exams also required.

To protect integrity of the incentive funding program, baccalaureate graduates must take an exit exam. Students can still graduate with a low score on the exit exam, but universities receive an additional weight, and more money, for students with higher scores on the exams.

Universities receive an additional weight, and more money, for higher scores on the exams. If the student graduates in a field with a licensure exam, that exam is used. In other fields, the Educational Testing Service’s major field tests are available. These exams exist for various degree areas, such as biology, business, criminal justice, education, music and political science.

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