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Thursday, June 13, 2024 — Houston, TX

State may cut TEG funding

By Hallie Jordan     2/17/11 6:00pm

Rice expects to see a drop of approximately $1 million in financial aid funds from the Texas Equalization Grant Program for the academic year of 2011-2012. Last year, Rice received $2.6 million from the state annually to help support Texas resident students at private universities whose families' average income is less than $29,000. Out-of-state students who are National Merit Scholars can also get these grants.

However, the state expects to see between a $15 billion and $27 billion budget shortage for the coming year. Due to this deficiency, a 40 percent decrease in Texas Equalization Grant funds is foreseeable.

The TEG fund was started 40 years ago, and the average amount awarded to Rice recipients last year was $3,441. The state caps the amount each individual can receive at $5,830.

According to Director of Student Financial Services Anne Walker, most of the money goes to undergraduate students, but a small amount also goes to graduate students.

Walker said Rice students who receive this grant do not need to worry about the decreased funding.

"Our students will not see a difference in their award packages," Walker said. "Rice will substitute with institutional funds. However, the Rice pocketbook will be affected."

Rice is the only private school in Texas that covers 100 percent of unmet financial need, Walker said.

Vice President for Finance Kathy Collins said that money from the operating budget will be used to cover the $1 million deficit.

Something called an unrestricted contingency fund allows for resolution of budget uncertainties, Collins said.

"We are taking this into account as we plan the fiscal year 2012 budget and will make sure we have sufficient contingency funds to cover it," Collins said.

Even with these special funds in the operating budget, efforts made to make up for the predicted million dollar deficit will not go unnoticed.

"This will make the budget more challenging to manage. A million dollars will have an impact," Collins said.

Since the Texas legislature only meets every two years, the financial aid office cannot predict if the grant will permanently be affected.

"This hurts us, but for schools who don't cover one hundred percent of need, those students might not get funding, which is really a concern," Walker said.

Director of Government Relations Cory Kennedy will be taking a group of students to Austin in the coming weeks to advocate for funding for the TEG.

"Private schools are educating between 10 and 14 percent of the state's students, and we would like to continue to get some reimbursement for our efforts," Walker said.

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