POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 6:27pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 8:49pm
EL PASO – State lawmakers looking to close a budget gap of up to $27 billion are considering slashing higher education funds, and that could deliver a big blow to universities and colleges, like the University of Texas at El Paso.
UTEP said the proposed cuts would slash funding to its institution, anywhere between $28 million and $30 million, over the next two years. That would especially impact students who rely on the state's leading college aid program, Texas Grants. UTEP said 1,000 of its students would not be able to receive aid from that program.
Phillip Knapp is a junior at UTEP. He said the cuts would take a big toll on him.
“If they cut it and I had to pay more out of pocket...it would just add more stress for me, make my last year and a half...more stressful and possibly affect my grades,” stated Knapp.
Faculty members at the school agree. Dr. Jeff Shepherd is a professor at UTEP. He said the cuts would impose more debt on students, that in turn would force them to work more, which would affect their grades.
“Now what you'll have is students who have a lot of debt, and they have lower GPA's, which makes it even more difficult to get a job. The state is just hurting itself,” said Shepherd.
UTEP's Executive Vice President, Richard Adauto, said the cuts will slow its progress towards becoming a nationally recognized research institution, also known as Tier One.
“We're well on our way to Tier One, and we'll get there, but it's going to slow down if we don't get funded,” said Adauto.
Despite the budget proposals, Adauto wanted to assure students that if the cuts do take place, UTEP would do everything possible to make sure its students can still attend.
“We're going to look everywhere we can and do whatever we can to make sure we don't deny anyone access because of money,” said Adauto.
However, UTEP said they will have a better idea as to how it will proceed when state lawmakers vote on the budget. That should take place before the legislative session ends May 31st.