Victoria College of higher learning will be keeping a close eye on the 86th legislative session for state funding for grants and projects.
Victoria College officials are monitoring a few issues that are policy priorities for the Texas Association of Community Colleges.
David Hinds, president of Victoria College, said; he is hoping to see an expansion of the Texas Educational Opportunity Grant Program, funding for students enrolled in Texas public two-year colleges.
Currently, Hinds said, high school students cannot apply for federal financial aid if they have not graduated from high school.
Expansion of the program would allow; more students the opportunity to get ahead in their college studies, said Jennifer Yancey, the vice president of college advancement and external affairs.
“We see this as a detriment to socio-economically disadvantaged students who might want to take dual credit (courses) but don’t; have the means to do that,” Hinds said.
Yancey said another priority is an increase in workforce education and training, which helps economic development. Sustained and increased funding in two programs – the Skills Development Fund and the Jobs and Education for Texans Grant – would help expand workforce education through community colleges.
Another request Victoria College hopes to see granted through the state is an increase in performance-based funding. State funding is about 17 percent of college’s budget, Yancey said.
University of Houston-Victoria officials said their primary concentration will be on budget and funding. David Cockrum, the interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, said; the university will talk to legislators about needs for the coming year and assistance with projects.
One of the current projects is a new recreational center. Last month, students voted 3-to-1 to approve a $125 fee to finance the center for the campus.
However, Cockrum said, that’s just one step of the process to receive funding needed for the center. Approval from the University of Houston System Board of Regents is the next step, and then; the proposal would go through legislative hearings and approval. The last step would be for Gov. Greg Abbott to sign the proposal. The legislative session begins Tuesday.
“We’ll still need some support from the state as well. We’re working on getting donor support for the building as well – it’s going to be a long and complicated process,” Cockrum said.
Wayne Beran, the vice president of administration and finance, said; the university also will be watching the session to ensure that the university maintains the level of state funding it already receives, such as support for downward expansion.
UHV is requesting; the continued funding of downward expansion, the nursing program, master degrees, the Center for Regional Outreach, the Small Business Development Center and institutional enhancement.
“We still need to ask and hold on to what we have, so we don’t lose it,” Beran said.