Citing ‘Significant Contribution,’ Dallas College Not Using HB 8 To Waive Tuition

Texas HB 8 boosts funding for community colleges

It’s fair to say that public education, and the teachers who provide it, were among the biggest victims of the many Legislative sessions in Texas last year. Gun control advocates and members of the LGBTQ community certainly have legitimate claims to the title of party most aggrieved, so let’s say there were many groups that lost out last year.

Even with a record surplus of more than $33 billion in state coffers, additional funding for public schools and teacher pay fell victim to being too close to the war over school vouchers that Gov. Greg Abbott waged over the course of the regular session and each additional special session. But somehow, not all the news regarding public education in Texas was bad coming out of 2023.

House Bill 8, signed into law by Abbott in June, is a $683-million section of the state budget that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board called “an innovative new model to fund community colleges in Texas.” Authored by Republican Rep. Gary VanDeaver of New Boston, the bill was passed nearly unanimously.

One of the major bullet points in HB 8 is the amount of money community colleges receive while also linking future state funding amounts for a school to successful student outcomes. Austin Community College will decide soon on how it will use the increased amount of money. According to The Texas Tribune, the heavily-attended school may decide to waive tuition for this year’s graduating high-school seniors, through 2027.

“ACC’s Board of Trustees will vote on the proposal in April,” the report said. “If the proposal passes, the school would use the $6.8 million it received this year through House Bill 8.”

We asked Collin College, Dallas College and Tarrant County College officials whether they were considering a similar program with the funds provided by HB 8. Reps from Dallas College and Tarrant County College said they were not doing so; we did not receive a reply from Collin College.

Similar to its North Texas counterpart, Tarrant County College pointed to what it has already been doing to serve incoming students since before HB 8, including waiving tuition for all dual-credit students.

“Educational affordability, accessibility and opportunity are top priorities. We’re also expanding scholarships and investing earnings from the lease of mineral rights into financial support for graduating high school seniors,” a Tarrant County College rep told the Observer. “We’ve opted into the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s FAST Program and the Texas Educational Opportunity Grant Program and are focused on their successful implementation.”

But let’s go back to what we heard from Dallas College. What “significant contribution” are they speaking of?

According to Dr. Tiffany Kirksey, vice provost, educational partnerships, the work of helping local students get into their college through a range of financial assistance is nothing new.

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