The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has announced that Texas students graduating with an associate’s degree will now be eligible for $1,344 per semester toward tuition through the Toward EXcellence Access and Success (TEXAS) Grant Program. Beginning with the fall 2001 semester, the grant will no longer be available solely to high school graduates who graduate 16 months prior to enrollment in a university. Now students with recent associate’s degrees may be eligible. “This will really benefit students graduating from community colleges. It will make a tremendous difference for students who want to earn a bachelor’s degree,” said the University of Texas of the Permian Basin Financial Aid Director Robert Vasquez. He noted that, in the past, students needed to have completed the Texas recommended high school plan for eligibility. The Texas recommended high school plan is still students’ best asset toward qualifying for many grants and scholarships. Now, however, students with an associate’s degree may also meet eligibility. Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Don W. Brown said, “We believe the TEXAS Grant Program has the potential of being a very successful tool in bridging the gaps that exist in the participation of low-and-upper-income students in higher education.” Brown said the grant will provide $2,688 per year to students attending public and independent institutions of higher learning. “If students continue to meet program academic standards, students can continue to receive TEXAS Grants for up to six years, or until they complete their bachelor’s degree, whichever comes first,” Brown said. Associate’s degree graduates must enroll to start earning a bachelor’s degree within 12 months of the receipt of their associate’s degree. Interested students who graduated with an associate’s degree in spring 2001 may contact U.T. Permian Basin’s financial aid office at (915) 552-2620.