Proposal in Texas Would Shut Out Many Low-Income, College-Bound Blacks From Scholarship Grants

The Toward Excellence, Access & Success (TEXAS) Grant Program was established by the Texas legislature in 1999 and signed into law by then-Governor George W. Bush. The program provides need-based aid for college-bound students. Since its inception, approximately 200,000 students have received TEXAS grants. A large percentage of these students have been black or Hispanic.

But with rapidly rising tuition at state universities, the demand for the scholarship grants has far outpaced the funding the legislature provided for the program. In 2007, 52,000 students received TEXAS grants, but this was less than 60 percent of the students eligible to receive the grants.

There is now a proposal in the Texas legislature to raise the merit component of the TEXAS grant program. Under the plan, to qualify for a grant, students would have to score at least 1350 on the reading and mathematics sections of the SAT, place in the top 50 percent of their high school class, and pass a rigorous college-prep high school curriculum.

Rodney Ellis, a state senator from Houston who wrote the original legislation establishing the program, says that half of the students in his district who currently receive TEXAS grants would no longer be eligible under the new academic standards.