Senate Votes to Provide Zero-Interest College Loans
Austin - The Senate today unanimously approved legislation that would provide zero-interest loans to high school graduates who complete a recommended curriculum and apply for financial aid. Under Senate Bill (SB) 4, students eligible for the Texas B-on-Time student loan program would be required to carry twelve college credit hours per semester, maintain a B average, and graduate in the time allotted for the degree they are seeking.
"This is a critically important piece of legislation that will enable so many deserving youngsters to be able to go to college," said Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. According to Dewhurst, the program would serve as an incentive for college students to work hard in school, to keep up their grades, graduate on time, and go into the work force to be productive citizens.
"Basically, this is a bill that adds to the options that students will have," said Laredo Senator Judith Zaffirini, sponsor of SB 4. She listed Texas grants for low-income students, as well as state and federally funded work study programs as current funding options for students who want to attend college. The zero-interest loan could be used toward tuition, books, and fees.
An amendment to the bill specifies that funding for the program would come from a percentage of any college tuition increase after the academic year. Zaffirini said that universities are supportive of the program.
The Senate also voted passage of legislation addressing the unlicensed "re-labeling" of infant formula, making it a violation of the Health and Safety Code. Expired or otherwise adulterated infant formula has been re-labeled and sold in Texas flea markets and could constitute a health hazard to infants. The Committee Substitute to SB 1826 would punish first offenders under this act with a Class A misdemeanor, and a subsequent offense would be a state jail felony.
Legislation that would allow the commissioners court in each Texas county to regulate development in unincorporated areas was also approved by the Senate today. However, each county's voters would have to approve the new regulations under SB 1631, sponsored by San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth.
The Senate will reconvene Friday, May 9, 2003, at 10:00 a.m.