WBU students speak to legislators

PLAINVIEW - Four Wayland Baptist University students made a quick trip to Austin last Monday and Tuesday to speak to their legislators on an issue important to them and the university.

Kristin Richey, Carlos Lopez, T.J. Messer and Kryn Barnard joined WBU Associate Director of Financial Aid Karen LaQuey in speaking with legislators about the Tuition Equalization Grant, which helps offset tuition costs for students attending private colleges and universities in the state of Texas.

"Every couple of years they review the budget, and there is a chance the fund for the grant program will be cut in light of other cuts the legislature plans to make on the budget," LaQuey said.

Funding for education across the board is a hot topic of debate in this legislative session. Some state universities are already making budget cuts.

The TEG provides qualified students with up to $3,572 per year to offset tuition costs. LaQuey said 555 Wayland students currently qualify for TEG assistance. Not all students receive the full amount. For instance, those attending Wayland external campuses receive less since the overall cost is less. Still, LaQuey said the funds have a huge impact on Wayland students.

"It helps them to obtain an education at a private university and keeps their debt load to a minimum," LaQuey said. "It can make a huge difference for our students' debt load to have that money that does not have to be paid back."

The group did not get to speak with Senator Robert Duncan, who was in Houston for the memorial services for the space shuttle astronauts, but LaQuey said Representative Pete Laney was very understanding of the group's position.

"Laney is in total support of the program and gave us some positive feedback about what he has seen it do for students attending private schools across the state," LaQuey said. "He feels some cuts may take place, but they won't do away with the program completely."

LaQuey said Laney explained that the TEG money awarded to students attending private schools is 1/3 the amount it would cost the state if that student attended a state-funded institution.

The group was told there is no specific timeline for a vote on the budget cuts. LaQuey said they plan to send out letters to the representatives and senators explaining how important this program is and thanking them for their consideration.