Op-Ed: Help Keep College Affordable: Vote Yes on Proposition 2

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

I do not know a single student or family who believes a college degree is too cheap. If you agree that higher education should be accessible and affordable for Texas families, please join me in voting for Proposition 2 on Nov. 6.

Many of us have worked for years to make a college education a reality for all students, and it will take you only a minute to help. By supporting Proposition 2, we can make the dream of attending college a reality for thousands of low- and middle-income students. As Chair of the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee, I believe it is critical that citizens voteyes on this important measure that will provide millions of dollars for the education of our children without requiring an increase in local or state taxes.

More than 40 years ago Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to use general obligation bonds to help finance low-interest, affordable loans for college education. Since then, these bonds have helped generations of Texans by providing more than $1 billion in affordable student loans.

This program, which predates many federal financial aid programs and private college loan opportunities, has been a tremendous boon for thousands of students. In the last 10 years alone, more than 58,000 Texans cumulatively received approximately $659 million in low-interest loans to help pay for college expenses.

Proposition 2 will extend the Coordinating Board’s bonding authority to continue this important program. Because the rising costs of attending college and the increasing number of college-bound students are quickly diminishing the program’s financial reserves, this is critical. If Texas voters fail to approve the measure, funding for these student loans could run out by 2009, according to the Coordinating Board. As a result, many of today’s high school sophomores would not have this critical financial assistance to pay for their future college expenses.

At a time when having a higher education degree is more important than ever, we can make no better investment for our students or for our future than providing access to low-interest loans approved by Texans, administered by Texans, for the benefit of Texans. What’s more, because the bonds used to finance these loans are repaid by those who borrow the money, Proposition 2 will have no impact on our local property taxes, sales taxes or any other tax collected by the state.

For the sake of our students and the future of higher education in Texas, I strongly and respectfully urge Texas voters to vote yes on Proposition 2.

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