New legislation to increase Texas student loans

Texas voters approved $500 million to fund student loan programs, meaning more financial aid for students next year after a recent shortage, said the director of scholarships and student financial aid.Nov. 6 marked the day voters approved all of the 21 state propositions for bonds, including funding more money for the College Access Loan Program. The funding will come from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which was created by the Texas legislature, said Michael Scott, the director of scholarships and student financial aid.

Scott said the College Access Loan is one of the best student loans available for students. He said the interest rates are very low compared to other loans.

Scott said this vote is good news for students and the financial aid office because the office has a shortage of funds for students this year.

“We had to limit the people we gave it to,” Scott said. “There’s just not enough money.”

Scott said with this extra boost in funding, more aid will become available, which means more students can utilize this loan. Students can request larger amounts of aid with a College Access Loan, he said.

“If we had more funding, we could double or increase the amount given out,” Scott said.

Melet Leafgreen, assistant director of loan programs, said this vote also means TCU will get a larger percent of funds from the Coordinating Board in the future.

Leafgreen said this bond vote is especially important for TCU because this is one of the few state bonds that aids private universities. Most state bonds only aid public schools, Leafgreen said.

“Students here deserve the loans as much as state school students,” Leafgreen said.

Leafgreen said the College Access Loan is good for students because it has a fixed interest rate, unlike most loans. She said the rate students have when they take out the loan, is the rate they pay during the loan repayment period. Also, in December 2006, the Coordinating Board removed the $10,000 College Access Loan amount restriction, so students can take out more, Leafgreen said.

Leafgreen said this loan is funded two to three years at a time. She said this vote was a “hot button” because educational funding is hard to find.

“It’s good people voted for this bond so they can have a say in where their tax money goes,” Leafgreen said.

Scott said it was important that college students went to vote because it can affect the amount of aid students receive in the future.

Leafgreen agreed that freshmen who voted affected their own future aid amount.

Scott said the bond capital comes from the state, so taxpayers are not paying for it. He said it is an “investment vehicle,” and the bonds will be bought by investors.

Leafgreen said there is no downside to this vote. She said some people may not want the state involved in funding education and may want its attention and money geared elsewhere, but said few feel that way.

Ashanti Williams, a senior modern dance major, said she definitely would have voted if she had known about the vote. Williams said she took out a College Access Loan her sophomore and junior year after doing research on the financial aid Web site.

Williams said she was happy with the loan and hopes other students will have access to it next year.

“It helped me out in my situation,” Williams said.

Leafgreen said this bond vote shows how important education is to people. She said people at TCU believe in the power of education, a quality education and where that education will take them.