Priority No. 1: University Research

2019 Goal

We ask the legislature to continue to invest in research programming at the public Tier One institutions through the Texas Research University Fund and Governor’s University Research Initiative. 

History

The Texas Competitive Knowledge and Research Development Funds were phased out in the 2015 session, and three new funds were created.  

The Texas Research University Fund provides $1.2 million investment for every $10 million in research expenditures at UT Austin and Texas A&M College Station. The Core Research Support Fund supports emerging institutions, and the Comprehensive Research Fund covers remaining colleges and universities in Texas. 

Preexisting matching funds provide critical support for undergraduate and graduate level research and the Governor’s University Research Initiative invests $40 million to help universities attract world-class researchers. 

What You Need to Know

  • Sponsored research at UT Austin enhances quality of life and brings royalties, tax revenues, and business to the Lone Star State.  
  • UT Austin strengthens the Texas economy through an estimated $8.8 billion in spending each year—or the equivalent of 132,695 jobs.  
  • Research at UT Austin has resulted in more than 700 U.S. and international patents over the past decade.
  • Examples of UT Austin research that have improved quality of life include: innovative medical tools to spot cancer instantly (MasSpec Pen), tracking natural disasters and providing on-the-ground intel to emergency responders (Stampede2), reducing opioid deaths for Texas mothers by revising childbirth protocols (Dell Medical School).
  • Research at UT Austin not only creates life-saving and important developments in research and technology, it allows students to get a practical, hands-on education and the real-world experience they need to succeed. 

 

Priority No. 2: Formula Funding

2019 Goal

We ask the legislature to restore formula funding to 2009 levels to best support the university’s academic functions. If funding is not restored to those levels, current funding amounts should be maintained.

History  

The legislature uses funding formulas to distribute available state appropriations to higher-education institutions. They allocate a base level of funding primarily on enrollment and estimated average cost by program. The formula is calculated by the Higher Education Coordinating Board and its recommendations are presented to the Legislative Budget Board in June of even years. In 2011, higher education suffered substantial cuts to base funding levels that have not been restored as the state’s economy has recovered.

What You Need to Know

  • UT Austin’s total enrollment in the fall of 2019 was 51,832 students.  
  • Adjusted for inflation, base funding has fallen by more than 40 percent since the mid-1980s. 
  • Revenue appropriated from the higher education formulas dedicated to educating students and maintaining operations is a mere 12.6 percent of UT Austin’s budget. 
  • UT Austin produces teachers, lawyers, music directors, scientists, and business owners who improve quality of life for all Texans.  
  • The best way to promote a sustainable Texas economy is to invest in an educated workforce.  

 

Priority No.3: Student Financial Aid

2019 Goal

We ask the legislature to strengthen support for the TEXAS Grant program by creating an incremental increase in funding with the goal of eventually supporting 100 percent of eligible students.

History

Core academic funding for higher education continues to decrease in relation to the growing number of students, forcing tuition rates to increase to account for the loss. Texas has retained the TEXAS Grant program as the primary mechanism for state financial aid; the program supported 72,142 students in Fiscal Year 2017. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board estimated that the TEXAS Grant appropriations for the 2016-17 biennium funded 89 percent of eligible incoming students.

What You Need to Know

  • State support for financial aid is critical; there is currently gap in funding.  
  • UT Austin recently revealed the Texas Advance Commitment program, working to find innovative solutions to solve student need.  
  • UT Austin leadership is striving to lower costs and increase efficiency. The university’s administrative cost is 5.4 percent; one of the lowest in the system, while maintaining a four-year graduation rate of 69.8 percent—the highest of any public university in Texas during the last academic year. 
  • Among the top Texas public institutions, UT Austin maintains one of the lowest tuition rates, ensuring access to affordable education for Texas students. 
  • Numerous studies have shown that increased state student aid does not drive up tuition prices, highlighting how increased state aid is necessary for universities to thrive.