HBA-LJP H.B. 400 77(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 400 By: Giddings Higher Education 8/7/2001 Enrolled BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Individual public institutions of higher education independently distribute pertinent information to prospective students to ensure that the students and their parents understand the benefits of higher education and the necessary steps to prepare for college. However, state law prior to the 77th Legislature did not provide for a public program to distribute such information which might help increase the admission and enrollment of students in Texas institutions of higher education. Also, prior to the 77th Legislature, there was no statewide program that created partnerships between school districts with low rates of college-bound high school students and institutions of higher education. House Bill 400 creates a plan to increase enrollment at institutions of higher education through partnerships between school districts and public institutions and creates the Higher Education Assistance Pilot Program to provide prospective students with assistance and information on admissions and enrollment at institutions. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 400 amends the Education Code to require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to identify each school district with one or more high schools that have had an average of at least 26 students in the high school graduating class during the preceding five years and have been among the lowest 10 percent of high schools in the percentage of graduates enrolling for the following academic year in an institution of higher education (institution) for any two consecutive years during the preceding five years. The bill requires TEA to notify applicable school districts that are not operating under a plan to increase the enrollment in institutions (plan) and THECB to notify each public institution in this state which is in closest geographic proximity to an applicable school district not operating under a plan. The bill requires a school district not later than August 1 of the year in which the district receives notice to enter into an agreement with the appropriate institution to develop a plan to increase the percentage of the graduating seniors in the district who enroll in an institution for the academic year following the graduation. The bill requires the institution to enter into an agreement unless that institution or the school district recruits another institution to enter into that agreement. The bill authorizes the school district and the institution to enter into an agreement with one or more other institutions in this state to participate in developing the plan. The bill establishes the requirements of the plan. The bill requires THECB to administer and coordinate the Higher Education Assistance Pilot Program if the legislature appropriates money specifically for the program. If money is not appropriated by the legislature for that purpose, THECB is authorized to implement the program using other appropriations available for that purpose. The bill requires THECB, through the program, to provide prospective students in the three areas of this state that have the highest number of students who do not attend institutions with assistance in filling out applications and with information on admissions, enrollment, and financial aid at institutions. The bill requires that the information be provided at least twice each year at one or more appropriate locations in each area served by the program. The bill also authorizes THECB to coordinate with institutions or other entities to provide the required information and assistance. No later than at the expiration of the program on August 31, 2003, THECB is required to submit to the legislature a report on the program's effectiveness and recommendations on whether to implement the program statewide. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.