Texas Higher Education Must Confront Hard Choices, Penn Study Finds

Texas higher education falls below the national average on most measures of college readiness, enrollment and graduation rates, and below the best-performing states on all of them, the researchers say. Moreover, huge inequities persist in Texas higher education. For example, among younger adults ages 25-34, 43% of whites hold at least an associate degree, compared to 28% of blacks and only 15% of Hispanics.

…soaring tuitions also stand in the way of a college education for many Texans. Texas was once known as a state where low financial aid was offset by low tuition. Now the low tuition is gone, leaving only low financial aid. In 2009, students at Texas’s public universities were paying 72% more than they were just six years earlier.

Moreover, the state’s ambitious goal to expand seven emerging research universities reveals little understanding of the serious policy tradeoffs that must be considered if Texas is to achieve significantly higher levels of educational attainment, Perna and Finney say. Boosting research and prestige at public universities is an expensive undertaking that will take funds away from the state’s efforts to increase college enrollment and produce more graduates ready for tomorrow’s jobs.

“The future of economic and social mobility in Texas depends on the difficult choices that lie ahead for higher education,” Perna and Finney write. “Are Texas’s state leaders prepared to make them?”

Texas Higher Education Must Confront Hard Choices, Penn Study Finds | Penn Institute for Research on Higher Education

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