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Government/Politics

State Lawmakers Work To Boost Adults College Attendance

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Ryan E. Poppe
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Dr. Raymond Paredes, commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Ahead of the 2017 Legislative session, lawmakers are looking at ways to boost college enrollment for working adults like military veterans, reaching those non-traditional students was discussed at the state capitol Tuesday.

The number of college students who also work has declined in recent years.  According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, currently 39 percent of the state’s 3.8 million college students work full or part-time jobs while attending classes.

Board Commissioner Dr. Raymond Paredes says one problem is the jobs these students have don’t meet enough of their financial needs in order to attend more classes. He urges lawmakers to increase state incentives that are available for non-traditional college students.

“It’s important to mention that an awful lot of our students have to work, but it’s also very clear that a much larger percentage of our higher education students can attend full-time than actually do," Paredes says.

Andres Alcantar, chairman of the Texas Veterans Commission, told lawmakers that providing career counselors to guide veterans into a degree program that is in-demand is essential. He said that varies from region to region.

“When we look at the Gulf Coast we know there is great opportunity in terms of petro-chem, when we look at Central Texas we understand the need to respond in different ways in terms of equipping the adults that aren’t working with different skill sets that they currently don’t have to support the IT sector," Alcantar explains.

Alcantar says one way of accomplishing this is establishing partnerships with groups like the Texas Workforce Commission, veterans groups, and career counselors at local community colleges and universities.