The first permanent institutions of higher education established in Texas were church-supported schools, although there were some earlier efforts:
Rutersville University was established in 1840 by Methodist minister Martin Ruter in Fayette County and was the predecessor of Southwestern University in Georgetown, which was established in 1843;
Baylor University, now at Waco, was established in 1845 at Independence, Washington County, by the Texas Union Baptist Association; and
Austin College, now at Sherman, was founded in 1849 at Huntsville by the Brazos Presbytery of the Old School Presbyterian Church.
Other historic Texas schools of collegiate rank included:
Larissa College, 1848, at Larissa, Cherokee County; McKenzie College, 1841, Clarksville, Red River County; Chappell Hill Male and Female Institute, 1850, Chappell Hill, Washington County; Soule University, 1855, Chappell Hill; Johnson Institute, 1852, Driftwood, Hays County; Nacogdoches University, 1845, Nacogdoches; Salado College, 1859, Salado, Bell County.
Add-Ran College, established in 1873 at Thorp Spring, Hood County, was the predecessor of present-day Texas Christian University, Fort Worth.
Texas A&M University and The University of Texas
The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University), authorized by the Legislature in 1871, opened its doors in 1876 to become the first publicly supported institution of higher education in Texas.
In 1881, Texans established The University of Texas in Austin, with a medical branch in Galveston. The Austin institution opened Sept. 15, 1883, and the Galveston school opened in 1891.
First College for Women
In 1901, the 27th Legislature established the Girls Industrial College, which began classes at its campus in Denton in 1903. A campaign to establish a state industrial college for women was led by the State Grange and Patrons of Husbandry.
A bill was signed into law on April 6, 1901, creating the college. It was charged with a dual mission, which continues to guide the university today, to provide a liberal arts education and to prepare young women with a specialized education “for the practical industries of the age.”
In 1905, the name of the college was changed to the College of Industrial Arts; in 1934, it was changed to Texas State College for Women.
Since 1957, the institution, which is now the largest university principally for women in the United States, has been the Texas Woman’s University.
Historic, Primarily Black Colleges
A number of Texas schools were established primarily for blacks, although collegiate racial integration has long been the status quo. Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965 established the term Historically Black College/University (HBCU), defined as a school of higher learning that was established and accredited before the 1964 Civil Rights Act and was dedicated to educating African Americans.
Today there are ten HBCUs in Texas: state-supported Prairie View A&M University (originally established as Alta Vista Agricultural College in 1876) Prairie View; and Texas Southern University, Houston; privately supported Huston-Tillotson University, Austin; Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins; Wiley College, Marshall; Paul Quinn College, originally located in Waco, now in Dallas; and Texas College, Tyler.
Predominantly black colleges that are important in the history of higher education in Texas, but which have ceased operations, include Bishop College, established in Marshall in 1881, then moved to Dallas; Mary Allen College, established in Crockett in 1886; and Butler College, originally named the Texas Baptist Academy, in 1905 in Tyler.
Title V of the Higher Education Act of 2008 established grant programs for public colleges that qualify as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). An HSI is defined as a not-for-profit institution of higher learning with a full-time equivalent undergraduate student enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic.
According to the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, Texas has 100 HSIs, including many community colleges, operating today.
The general revenue funds for higher education totaled $16.2 billion for FY22–23, an increase of 2.2 percent over the FY20–21 funding level. This amount represents about 14.0 percent of the total general revenue budget. Rates for all of the higher education formulas were increased over the FY22-23 rates.
The general revenue funds increase includes:
$8.6 billion, a $486 million increase to the current biennium, to fund a number of higher education institutions, including $4.1 billion to General Academic Institutions, Lamar State Colleges and Texas State Technical Colleges; $2.6 billion to Health Related Institutions; and $1.8 billion to Community Colleges, with a continued focus on performance-based funding.
$199 million for graduate medical education to maintain a 1.1 to 1.0 ratio for residency slots, and $118.5 million for the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium.
$1.25 billion for financial aid programs, including $866 million for TEXAS Grants program; $178.6 million for Tuition Equalization Grants program; $88.5 million for Texas Educational Opportunity Grants (TEOG) Public Community Colleges; $7.5 million for TEOG State and Technical Colleges; and $110 million for Student Financial Aid to be allocated to TEXAS Grants, Tuition Equalization Grants, TEOG Public Community Colleges and TEOG Public State and Technical Colleges.
Actions of the 85th Legislature, 2017
Below are bills passed by the 85th Legislature that affect higher education in Texas.
SB 1 included several new items in the budget for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The agency received $500,000 for the oversight of for-profit career schools and colleges, as well as the creation of an electronic repository to store academic records of students at these institutions.
The same bill also cut the coordinating board's administrative budget by $1.25 million.
HB 264 extends until Sept. 1, 2020, requirements that school districts provide parents and students information regarding; (1) the college and career readiness components of each curriculum endorsement; (2) the curriculum requirements to gain automatic admission to an institution; and (3) the course and endorsement requirements to be eligible for state financial aid. This information must be available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The legislation also removes a requirement that students be informed regarding eligibility requirements for the B-on-Time loan program.
Actions of the 84th Legislature, 2015
Below are bills passed by the 84th Legislature that affect higher education in Texas.
HB 3348 creates a pilot program to offer a community college baccalaureate in dental hygiene at Tyler Junior College. It was signed by the governor.
HB 100 authorizes $3.1 billion in tuition revenue bonds for 64 projects at public universities, health-related institutions, and state and technical colleges. It was signed by the governor.
SB 11 regarding firearms on college campuses was signed by the governor. The final language states that institutions may not adopt a general rule to prohibit licensed holders from carrying handguns on the campus, except that they may establish “reasonable” restrictions on where firearms may be permitted on campus and how they may be stored.
HB 700 repeals the B-On-Time Loan Repayment Program (BOT) from statute. It was signed by the governor. The legislation limits BOT to renewal students only, beginning in academic year 2015–2016, and abolishes the program entirely in 2020.
SB 18 makes key revisions to streamline and improve the efficiency of existing Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs and sets up a Permanent Fund Supporting GME from funds transferred from the Texas Medical Liability Insurance Underwriting Association. Funds from the permanent fund would be used to support GME programs established by SB 18.
HB 2628 directs the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to periodically review each Field of Study curriculum. Approved Fields of Study curricula provide a statewide guarantee of transfer of course credits to any public college or university in Texas, and further promises that the courses in the approved Field of Study will apply to a student’s relevant degree program. The legislation also directs the agency to develop Programs of Study by assembling advisory committees to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to prepare students for high-skill, high-wage jobs in high-demand occupations.
SB 632 creates a “Governor’s University Research Initiative Fund” (GURIF) as a dedicated account in the general revenue fund. Monies placed in the GURIF are to be allocated by the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office within the Office of the Governor. The Office will award matching grants to assist eligible institutions in recruiting distinguished researchers, preferentially but not exclusively in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Actions of the 83rd Legislature, 2013
The 83rd Texas Legislature approved critical legislation that will change the way higher education does business. Innovative legislative strategies to improve student outcomes and increase institutional productivity were approved including:
SB 1 implements outcomes-based funding for community colleges (Student Success Points) and technical colleges (Returned Value Funding Model), and increases funding for the TEXAS Grant program to $724 million, which represents the largest total dollar appropriation since the program began in 1999. Funding to expand graduate Medical Education was also appropriated.
SB 24 combines The University of Texas Brownsville and The University of Texas Pan American to create a new general academic teaching institution that includes a medical school.
SB 215 makes the TEXAS Grant program a university-only program and creates an additional pathway into the program for specific community college transfer students. The legislation also makes the B-On-Time loan program a university-only program and provides institutions with flexibility to set the award amount to maximize the number of zero-interest loans that can be issued.
SB 215 also implements a cap for the number of hours required for an associate's degree to no more than that required by licensure or accrediting requirements in an effort to improve time-to-degree (typically 60 semester credit hours).
SB 441 requires the Texas Workforce Commission to collaborate with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and public community and technical colleges to identify and develop methods to support competency-based, rapid-deployment education delivery models aligned with local and regional workforce needs.
SB 1210 requires students who receive tuition and fee exemption or waivers for higher education to meet basic academic progress requirements to maintain eligibility.
HB 5 makes substantial changes to the public high school curriculum and reduces the number of state assessments required from 15 to 5. Students must choose one of five endorsements to complete, in addition to the new Foundation Graduation Plan, upon entering 9th grade. All endorsements require four math credits and four science credits. A student may also graduate with a Distinguished Level of Achievement Plan which requires Algebra II and is required for Top 10 percent Automatic Admissions into a public university in Texas.
HB 29 requires public universities to offer a fixed tuition price plan under which the institution agrees not to increase tuition charges per semester credit hour.
HB 2036 creates the Texas 2036 Commission to identify future higher education and workforce needs.
HB 2549 requires the Coordinating Board and the Texas Education Agency to periodically review the College and Career Readiness Standards.
HB 2550 and HB 1025 create new programs to help entities: plan for new Graduate Medical Education programs; fill unfilled positions; create new residencies; and develop innovative programs to increase the number of primary care physicians.
Actions of the 82nd Legislature, 2011
The 82nd Texas Legislature approved critical legislation that will change the way higher education does business. Innovative legislative strategies to improve student outcomes and increase institutional productivity were approved including:
SB 28, known as the Texas Grant Priority Model or the Texas Grant College Readiness Reform Act, will improve the state’s return on investment by prioritizing awards to financially needy high school students whose academic efforts make them well-prepared to complete a college degree. (This legislation will go into effect in fall 2013.)
HB 9 moves Texas a step closer to implementing outcomes-based funding for two-year and four-year institutions of higher education by requiring the Higher Education Coordinating Board to recommend to the Legislature student success-based funding formulas that are aligned with the state’s education goals and economic development needs.
HB 1000 provides a methodology for the distribution of funds from the National Research University Fund (NRUF) to emerging research universities.
HB 3025 implements cost efficiency recommendations designed to help facilitate timely degree completion by requiring students to file a degree plan not later than earning 45 semester credit hours and requiring institutions to send transcripts of eligible transfer students back to the lower division institution for the awarding of an Associate’s degree, called “reverse transfer.”
SB 851 will send students a clear and uniform message regarding financial aid processes and implement a statewide deadline for financial aid. The provisions of the legislation apply beginning with financial assistance awarded for the 2013–2014 academic year.
The passage of HB 1244 will help the Coordinating Board implement changes to reform a developmental education system that is failing students. This legislation requires the Board to prescribe standards for each Texas Success Initiative assessment instrument to measure student readiness and align the delivery of developmental education. In addition, HB 1244 requires institutions to provide a range of coursework options, including online and non-course based remediation to get students on a faster track toward degree attainment.
SB 1799 and SJR 50 help expand access during these challenging budgetary times by increasing the Coordinating Board’s College Access Loans bonding capacity to meet expected loan demand. These loans are competitive and offer the lowest rates in the country, which are 5.25% for fall 2011. This legislation and constitutional amendment, upon approval of voters, will provide students additional options for paying for college.
Actions of the 81st Legislature, 2009
HB 51 was a major piece of legislation intended to raise the excellence of public universities and develop, fund and maintain major research universities in Texas.
SB 175 authorized The University of Texas at Austin to place a cap on the number of students admitted under the Top Ten Percent Law. Beginning with the 2011–2012 academic year, UT-Austin is not required to offer admission to applicants qualifying under the Top Ten Percent Law in excess of the number needed to fill 75 percent of enrollment capacity for first-time resident undergraduate students.
HB 3 established two performance standards for high school end-of-course examinations: a standard performance and, for Algebra II and English III, a college readiness performance standard.
SB 956 authorized the board of the University of North Texas System to establish and operate a school of law in Dallas as a professional school of the system.
SB 98 established The University of Texas Health Science Center-South Texas, which includes The University of Texas Medical School-South Texas. The UT System was directed to convert the current Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Academic Health Center to The University of Texas Health Science Center-South Texas as a component institution of the system.
SB 629 removed statutory barriers to the establishment of three new universities that had been operating as system centers: Texas A&M-San Antonio, Texas A&M-Central Texas and University of North Texas at Dallas.