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Volume 3, Issue 4                                    University of Houston

Perry: Higher education should be available to everyone

By Romina Kim
Breaking News Staff

Gov. Rick Perry said he hopes the state will someday be able to guarantee a scholarship to every qualifying Texan student.

"College education is the ticket to opportunity in this great state of Texas," Perry said during a news conference at UH on Jan. 3. The governor was in Houston to unveil a new education plan that would give every Texan the chance to get a higher education.

Perry said he had numerous recommendations for the Texas Legislature to take into consideration both in the current session and in the long term.

These recommendations came from a report, "Higher Education in the 21st Century… Moving Every Texan Forward," that was put together by a committee appointed by Perry to come up with suggestions to improve the quality of education in the state.

College graduates make $1.4 million more in their lifetime than their high school-educated counterparts do -- $45,000 vs. $24,000 a year, by Perry's estimate.

The most telling statistic, Perry said, is that only one in five Texans has a college degree, and the number is even lower among Hispanics and African-Americans.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry outlined his plans for improving the accessibility of higher education in the state during a speech at UH on Jan. 3. Perry said he hopes the state will one day be able to offer a scholarship to every qualifying student.

Chris Galloway/
Breaking News

"This is a trend that cannot continue," Perry said.

Perry's most immediate goal is to double the funding for the TEXAS Grant program, which provides grants to Texas high school graduates who have taken college preparatory courses and will attend a public or private Texas university.

The program helps those who can't afford college tuition, particularly minorities. Many parents don't know their kids can go to college.

"Too many Texans miss out on higher education," Perry said.

He said his vision for the grant program is to guarantee a scholarship for every qualified Texas student.

"This will give more opportunities to learn and open doors that otherwise would be closed," Perry said. "Young minds would be empowered to pursuit their dreams regardless of the color of their skin and the sound of their last name."

Perry also said he wants to make the transition between grade levels in K-16 schools more seamless, while highlighting the need for a college education.

He also suggested that all colleges and universities develop "centers of excellence" as an incentive to improve their quality by lowering the student-faculty ratio and enhancing research capabilities.

Perry said he hopes all state universities will work together, not compete against one another.

"We want to raise all the ships in the harbor," Perry said. "We'll focus on the system, not one or two universities."

Perry, a Texas A&M graduate, said education is his passion.

"I would not be here standing as the governor of the state if I had not had the opportunity to have access to afford an education in this state," he said. "From humble beginnings come vivid dreams and the goal to see those dreams become a reality."

Although Perry said he doesn't expect to achieve all his goals this legislative session, he said he wants to at least begin examining what can be done to help education in the future.

"This is a very bold, expansive and visionary statement of where we want to go," Perry said. "Given the amount of time, there isn't anything on this report that cannot be done."

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