Students support independent aid program

In an effort to increase funding for the Texas Tuition Exchange Grant, 11 students spent the past two days lobbying at the state Capitol in Austin.The TEG gives money to private institutions to use for student financial aid and scholarships.

According to a 2007 report from the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, there are 40 independent – nonprofit and tax-exempt – colleges and universities in the state. These institutions award more than 22 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in Texas.

TCU is the third largest recipient of the grant, receiving more than $5 million in the 2007 fiscal year, according to the report.

Michael Scott, director of scholarships and student financial aid, said the TEG was created after an acknowledgment by legislators of the growing number of college-bound students in Texas. He said the grants allow a number of students to go to private schools who would otherwise be attending public colleges and universities.

“The TEG has been one of the most effective aid programs I think we’ve ever had the benefit of administering at TCU,” Scott said.

Susan Adams, dean of campus life, said TCU has been helping with the TEG lobby effort for at least 20 years. Adams accompanied the 11 students to Austin and said they visited close to 40 legislators.

“The 11 students did an excellent job representing TCU students’ interest,” Adams said.

Students such as Jewel Alvarez, a sophomore bilingual education major and recipient of the TEG grant, said lobbying in Austin helped representatives put a face to the name of a recipient.

“I was able to say, ‘I’m a person that you’re helping if you approve this grant,'” Alvarez said.

The grant is important because it gives financially limited students the opportunity to get an education at an independent institution, said Kelly Barnes, a freshman political science major. He said they lobbied for an increase in the TEG to correspond with rising tuition rates at TCU.

“To keep up with the 8 percent tuition increase, they’ll need to increase the grant money,” Barnes said.