In an announcement last week, Leticia Van de Putte addressed an issue that is on the minds of many Texans and their families: the increasingly steep price of a college education. According to the Project on Student Debt, students in Texas graduate with an average of $24,000 in student loans. This number can be even higher for students attending some of the state’s most well-known public institutions, like the University of Texas at Austin, where the average student debt is over $26,000.
Van de Putte has a plan to make college affordable for Texas students, and to ensure that all students see college as a possibility in their future.
Van de Putte’s plan for higher education, Texas First, has a distinct vision for Texas students: college readiness and access for all. The most exciting provision of her Texas First plan is the Texas Promise scholarship, which would create two-year access to community colleges without tuition or fees. Her plan should even be acceptable to fiscally conservative voters – it relies on existing state funds and requires no new taxes.
Free two-year college programs are a great start, but Van de Putte’s plan shows that she understands that not all obstacles are financial. Texas First addresses some of the other barriers facing students by creating a work study program that integrates degree-related work internships, and increasing support for existing college counseling to make sure all students see college as an option, if they want it. Van de Putte’s Higher Education Plan is just one more place where the choice in the race for Lieutenant Governor is clear.
When the plan was released, Van de Putte explained her commitment to a higher education plan that works for everyone in a statement:
As Lieutenant Governor, I’ll put Texans and jobs first. It is time to remove the barriers. Every hard-working high school graduate in Texas deserves an opportunity to go to college, receive technical education and obtain post-high school credentials. It is time to get Texans prepared for the jobs of the future.
Democrats from across the state were quick to express their support for Van de Putte’s commonsense solutions to real problems facing Texans considering college. Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said:
Senator Van de Putte understands that preparing Texans for the jobs of the future should always be a top priority for our state’s leaders. The Texas Democratic Party applauds this bold and innovative idea from our next lieutenant governor.
Representative Donna Howard of Austin also recognized the importance of a Lieutenant Governor committed to higher education policy that works:
Though we have made great progress in getting more Texans into higher education, many of those students are not completing a degree or certification. It is critical that we ensure more students are able to achieve the necessary credentials to meet the workforce demands of our dynamic and growing state. Senator Van de Putte has proposed a game-changing solution that expands opportunities for Texas students and meets future job needs for Texas.
Van de Putte’s clear vision for making higher education more affordable and accessible for all Texans is just one more way she continues to be the kind of Lieutenant Governor Texans deserve. Her commonsense approach – some parts drawn from a Republican plan put into practice in Tennessee – is what continues to energize Democrats and Republicans alike. This is the kind of leadership Texans need.