How Texas is Working to Make College More Affordable

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Texas is continuing to make college more affordable. Seven years ago, public four-year universities of Texas were asked to design bachelor’s degrees which were more affordable. At the time, they were labeled as “$10,000 degrees.” Schools have stepped up to the task, allowing for more “non-traditional” students (people over the age of 25, possibly with families of their own to support, possibly working fulltime) to access a great education.

The first Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Degree was launched by South Texas College and Texas A&M-Commerce in 2013. According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), that program began with seven students and has now grown to over 300, with 121 graduates from statistics dated 2016. In order to lower the cost and reduce the time required for graduation, the Affordable Baccalaureate Degree combined online study with credit allotted for skills acquired in the workforce as well as, or during, military service. To improve upon this option, in early 2017, THECB announced grants totaling over $650K to four new Texas Affordable Baccalaureate programs. These consisted of Tarleton State University, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University-Commerce, and South Texas College (in partnership with Austin Community College).

How Texas is Working to Make College More Affordable

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In doing so, Raymund Paredes, Commission of THECB, told that “The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate is a cost-effective option to provide greater socioeconomic mobility for a greater number of Texans. The state must continue to innovate and provide cost-effective, high-quality education that meets the needs of an ever-changing global economy while providing greater opportunity and prosperity for Texans. The Coordinating Board welcomes these four new programs.” These grants were made possible by the College for All Texans Foundation in conjunction with the Greater Texas Foundation, AT&T Aspire, the Meadows Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation. The four school grant recipient programs are in four different sets of studies, each unique, and each opening the door for students to enter the workforce with solid education and skill set requirements. From here, Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Degree Programs can be expanded statewide, making college more affordable for more people. But, there is still room for growth. In both the 84th and 85th sessions of the Texas Legislature, proposed legislation for the expansion or enhancement of such opportunities in public universities throughout the state was declined. At present, those aspiring to the Affordable Baccalaureate Degree Programs make up the majority of those in search of training or post-secondary education.