After decades of consistent public support, colleges and universities are facing growing scrutiny—especially in terms of accessibility and value. This is no exception for Texas’ institutions of higher education. Fortunately, Trellis Strategies has had the privilege of being included in multiple legislative discussions about higher education for the state—and what policymakers should do moving forward. At this most pivotal time for higher education, Trellis Strategies has aggregated numerous statistics about college students in Texas, particularly through the lens of community colleges. Our statistics showcase the significance of investing in a strong community college infrastructure, as they serve countless students statewide and offer an accessible route to a degree through affordability and programming.
With 78% of all first-year students in Texas enrolled in two-year institutionsi, community colleges fill an incredibly vital role in our state’s higher education system. During a time of economic difficulty, the advantages of two-year institutions are clear: open admissions policies, lower tuition, and flexible curriculums provide an accessible pathway for individuals of all backgrounds to obtain a degree that is connected to industry needs. However, there are still many individuals that start their postsecondary journey and do not finish, resulting in nearly 4 million students with some college and no degreeii. Furthermore, only 45% of graduated high school students in Texas are enrolling directly in collegeiii. In order to foster success for these students, we must support them holistically.
Every Texas student is unique—from their personal background to the resources they need to achieve academic success, and the way they define the value of educational experiences. As the price tag of a college degree continues to increase, students are more heavily impacted, often neglecting basic needs in order to finance their education. This can lead to housing and food insecurities, which then affect the academic progress and success as well as the mental wellbeing of an individual. Furthermore, it can lead to students seeking out more loans to cover the cost of college, which may leave the student at a disadvantage after graduation. As such, it is imperative that institutions begin offering holistic support for their students.
Supporting students holistically means providing student centric support that will help them thrive personally and academically while seeing a connection to their future career. It is this notion that inspires Trellis Strategies to continue administering and publishing the State of Student Aid and Higher Education in Texas (SOSA) report—providing the public with data that can help inform best practices in higher education moving forward.
As we continue our work to help people leverage the power of post-secondary education to improve their quality of life and the communities where they live, the Trellis Strategies Team must grow and nurture partnerships in the higher education community and support dialogue that encourages student success. Together, we can devise informed solutions, improve strategic framework, and set more students on the path to achievement and degree attainment.
i Cornett, Allyson, Fletcher, Carla, and Webster, Jeff. (2022). State of Student Aid and Higher Education in Texas (SOSA). Pg 19. Trellis Strategies.
ii Committee on Higher Education of the Eighty-seventh Legislature. (2022). House Committee on Higher Education Texas House of Representatives Interim Report 2022. Pg. 12.
iii Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, The. (2022). Building a Talent Strong Texas. Pg. 8.