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Students Lobby TEG Grant in Austin
Photo: Students in front of CapitolThree University of St. Thomas students traveled to Austin in March to speak to legislators regarding the Tuition Equalization Grant.

Accompanied by students from Rice University and South Texas College of Law, they met with more than 32 legislators from all over Texas.

Sophomore Marcella Arredondo, freshman Ester Aguilar and sophomore Cecilia Dao represented UST, along with Chandra Gonzalez, assistant director of scholarships and financial aid, and Nancy Limón-Herrera, administrative assistant II.

Gonzalez said the Tuition Equalization Grant is a state-funded grant that assists students with paying for their tuition, fees and books. 
“It’s additional funding that our students desperately need,” Gonzalez said.
Biology major Cecilia Dao received the TEG grant in addition to other scholarships, financial aid and work study money. She said it has made a difference for her to be able to attend St. Thomas.

“With the TEG, a significant financial burden has been lifted from my family,” Dao said. “Without the grant, I would not have been able to cover the costs of most, if not all of my textbooks, additional supplies, a portion of my tuition, as well as transportation and gas expenses.”

This was Dao’s first experience lobbying for the grant, and her first trip to the Texas State Capitol.

Photo: Group of UST students in front of Capitol“I was able to sneak a glance at what our state legislators and legislative aides do behind the doors of the lengthy hallways of the massive Texas State Capitol,” she said. “Although we did not talk directly to the state representatives, we were able to contact and speak to their respective legislative aides/schedulers and directors.”

Paired with a student from a neighboring school, the UST students reminded the staff members of the critical importance of the TEG, how it has directly affected and benefitted them, what would happen if the TEG was cut, and thanked them for their continual support of the grant.

“I believe that I made a difference,” Dao said. “Rather than having to make funding decisions based only upon the stacks of propositions and statistics regarding the TEG that representatives have to tediously read through, I was able to provide a sincere face and true personal story for them. We hope that Texas will continue to keep the TEG and if possible, increase the funding for the TEG program.”

Gonzalez said the TEG grant funds are limited resources that are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, and she encouraged supporters to contact their state house representative and senator and make them aware of the importance of the grant. 

“With the TEG, students and parents now have a combination of grant and scholarship money which alleviates the financial burden,” Gonzalez said. “It also makes UST a more affordable option, even when compared to a public institution.”

Top: Cecilia Dao, Marcella Arredondo and Ester Aguilar traveled to the Texas State Capitol to support the Tuition Equalization Grant in March.

Bottom: UST students and students from Rice University and South Texas College of Law met with more than 32 legislators from all over Texas.

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