As a member of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, Trinity takes part in supporting the continuation of the Texas Tuition Equalization Grant Program every semester. The TEG grant allows students to attend private universities and colleges in Texas. The grant is received by approximately 400 students at Trinity every year. This year, assistant vice president of external relations Sharon Schweitzer took 11 students to represent Trinity to speak in support of the program.
“For many of [the students who receive the grant], it makes the difference,” Schweitzer said. “Trinity students are poised, confident, and armed with the right information, and I was very proud of them.”
Every legislative year, ICUT organizes a student lobby day when Texas schools bring students to speak in support of various subjects. Other colleges and universities in attendance within the San Antonio area included the University of Incarnate Word, Our Lady of the Lake University, St. Mary’s University and Texas Lutheran University.
Support of the Texas Tuition Equalization Grant Program is one the main focuses of ICUT, and their funding goal for the program is such that it will fund 70 percent of student need. The advocacy group is also supportive of other student financial aid programs as well. ICUT has 38 regular members.
“This is the only issue we have advocated for [at student lobby day],” Schweitzer said. “It directly benefits our students.”
In order to organize for the day, universities and colleges are given a date on which their groups will be presenting. For Trinity, this date was Feb. 12, and Schweitzer began contacting students who receive the TEG grant to find those who would be interested in speaking in support of it. The students then contacted their representatives to ask if they could discuss with them their experience with Trinity and the TEG grant.
While in Austin for the lobby day, students were able to see portions of the Texas Legislature sessions before continuing on to the offices of their representatives in order to convey their messages. Contacting these representatives led some of the students who attended the event to meet with their representatives. While meeting with their representatives, they spoke of their experiences at Trinity and how the TEG grant had an impact their lives. Alejandra Ortiz was able to meet with Sen. Charles Schwertner.
“Being able to tell him my story, … I learned the TEG has a tremendous impact on not only the recipients but also the supporters,” Ortiz said. “With continued funding of this grant, we can continue to change many students’ lives.”
Schweitzer noted that the elected officials and their staff are very receptive to hearing the input of students representing their universities. If students are interested in showing their support for the continuation of the TEG grant, they can locate their representatives online using their zip code and then contact those representatives and encourage them to support the grant.
“A lot of times, the things that happen on state and local levels impact us more than on a national level,” Schweitzer said. “Being aware of what is happening locally is a great way of being an engaged citizen.”