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Non-traditional, poorer students now the norm in Texas colleges - Odessa American: ECISD

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Non-traditional, poorer students now the norm in Texas colleges

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Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2018 1:24 pm

Non-traditional students in Texas are now the norm in colleges and universities statewide and more than half of students are poor, state Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes said in a media call Thursday.

Some 40 to 45 percent of college graduates are older than age 25, Paredes said.

Over half of students in public higher education also are poor, in this case meaning they are eligible for Pell grants. Many students skip meals or may not eat one day a week as a result.

If a student’s transmission goes out on their car, students may feel they need to quit school and get a job, Paredes said.

Their financial status impacts their ability to study and do their school work, he said.

He added that there are more colleges providing pantries and clothes closets for students and soon-to-be graduates to go on job interviews.

There is an emergency aid network that can provide grants of several hundred dollars.

Deputy Commissioner/Chief Academic Officer David Gardner said one of the issues is letting students know the emergency aid networks exist.

According to a map provided by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Angelo State University is the only college in West Texas that provides one.

Paredes said participation is voluntary and there are only 17 or 18 schools in the network. Some universities provide the information at freshman orientation or via email or messaging to let students know it is available.

Economically disadvantaged students may get a poor kindergarten through 12th grade education and have a greater need for academic advising, tutoring, developmental classes and extra support, Paredes said.

He added that many of these students are first generation and may not know how to prepare to be successful in college and may pick a major based on popular culture.

There has also been a move to change developmental education. Paredes said House Bill 2223 requires developmental education to move in a direction where a student takes a course for academic credit, but also take a co-requisite course that provides extra support. That extra support can increase the chance of students to complete those classes successfully and graduate in a timely fashion.

Paredes said another Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board goal is to strengthen transfer and completion rates. A high school diploma used to be enough to live a middle class life, he said, but now everyone needs some form of postsecondary education.

He said kindergarten through 12th grade students need to be taught that “learning is forever” and they should expect to be reeducated, retrained and retooled throughout their lives because the economy is changing so quickly.

On funding, Paredes said the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is asking for about $9.3 billion in the next biennium. He said that is an increase of $710 million, or 8.2 percent.

Funding higher education adequately will help the state reach its 60 by 30 Texas goal of having at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25 to 34 earn a certificate or degree by 2030.

He added that when the 2019 legislative session is over, the state will be one third of the way toward completion of that objective.

He noted that the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program is being increased by private funds.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board website stated the purpose of the affordable baccalaureate program is to increase the availability of affordable baccalaureate programs at additional Texas public and independent higher education institutions. Funding supports the planning and development processes, the site stated.

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