AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new proposal would revamp the money that Texas’ community colleges get from the state legislature.
House Bill 8 would change the funding formula for the money that the state gives its 50 community college districts. State Rep. Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, filed the bill Wednesday. If approved, it would take effect Sept. 1.
The proposal follows last year’s recommendation for state funding based on “measurable outcomes” from a commission that the Texas legislature created in 2022.
The bill includes a performance tier of funding based on “each measurable outcome” for each college. Outcomes include:
- the number of credentials of value awarded,
- the number of students who earn at least 15 credit hours and transfer to a university, and
- the number of students who finish 15 credit hours or dual credit courses that are used toward academic/workforce program requirements.
Credentials of value include degrees, certificates and other credentials from credit “that equip students for continued learning and greater earnings in the state economy, with an additional weight for credentials in a high-demand field,” according to the bill.
HB 8 could also create the Advanced Career and Education scholarship program, which would give scholarships to economically-disadvantaged students in dual-credit courses.
The current state funding model distributes money based on how colleges perform in relation to one another and is tied to student enrollments, course types, “success points” metrics and a uniform amount of “core” funding, according to the commission report.
A community college funding revamp is something that community college advocates asked for this legislative session. It’s the first-listed priority for the Texas Association of Community Colleges for this year. In addition, House Speaker Dade Phelan named the bill as a new priority for this session last week.
This funding system could streamline the college timeline for students and increase affordability, Educate Texas’ higher education managing director Kenyatta Lovett told KXAN in January.
“The quicker they can get out of college and into a job, the more that they can get into a wage-earning lifestyle, which is where we want them,” he said.
If approved, the new model could highlight the connection between higher education, workforce development and the Texas economy, Lovett said.
“The hope is that what Texas can demonstrate for the rest of the nation really advances our work around how community colleges should be funded — how we should have a keen focus on student success and student outcomes,” Lovett said.
The report said community college enrollment makes up 40% of higher education enrollment in Texas. However, it added that academic enrollment and workforce education program enrollment declined from 2011 to 2021.
The draft budgets from the Texas House and Senate show $650 million earmarked for the community college finance system, but this is contingent on legislation like HB 8.