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Austin, Texas News

Higher Education Enrollment Decline Spurs Proposals

Texas’ booming economy requires highly skilled workers, but higher education enrollment is lagging as the state works to supply qualified employees; about 66,000 fewer students were enrolled in Texas institutions of higher education (IHEs) in fall 2022 than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The enrollment drop is driven by a 10.4 percent decline at public two-year colleges since 2019.

In February's issue of Fiscal Notes, the Comptroller's office examines the proposals aimed at improving enrollment in Texas IHEs. The Texas Commission on Community College Finance recommends the 88th Legislature strengthen financial aid programs as well as modernize the state funding formula so it’s geared toward student outcomes, among other sweeping changes. At universities, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is pushing for major increases in research dollars to spark innovation and boost entrepreneurship.

This issue of Fiscal Notes also looks at how IHEs are making bold moves to fill employment gaps caused by high demand and low supply of qualified workers. Three situations are playing out at the same time to create a unique workforce challenge: Our state’s population is growing by leaps and bounds; baby boomers are leaving the labor force in droves; and hiring managers are tightening education and job skill requirements for prospective employees.

“Texas A&M University — my alma mater — is looking to solutions, with two newly established programs in its strategic toolkit,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. "One program incentivizes former students to return to the university to finish their degree or certificate, greatly benefiting military service members and others who had to put a pin in their studies. Another program encourages students such as wait-listed freshmen to enroll in underfilled majors.”

Fiscal Notes furthers the Comptroller’s constitutional responsibility to monitor the state’s economy and estimate state government revenues. It has been published since 1975, featuring in-depth analysis concerning state finances and original research by subject-matter experts in the Comptroller’s office.

Fiscal Notes is available online and can be received by subscribing via the Comptroller's website.

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