Low retention and low graduation rates are big problems for colleges and universities in Texas and across the country.

A lot of time, energy and money are spent recruiting and enrolling new students, but the lack of follow through to ensure success once the students arrive on campus is often pathetic.

The graduation rates at Texas colleges and universities indicate that high enrollment rates do not necessarily translate into more diplomas two, four or even six years down the road.

This cannot be allowed to continue. More needs to be done to ensure student success and help Texas meet its goals of increasing the number of college graduates in the state.

The Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit, recently awarded Texas a $1.8 million grant to help it increase its college graduation rates.

Texas is one of seven states the Lumina Foundation has targeted for this project. The nonprofit has awarded a total of $9.1 million to the states to work on increasing the number of college graduates.

The aim of the Texas grant is to help the state overhaul its public higher education funding system and tie budget allocations to final outcomes instead of just enrollment figures, Express-News higher education writer Melissa Ludwig reported.

At present, higher education funding is calculated on the enrollment on the 12th day of class, giving college administrators little incentive to make sure students do not drop their classes after that date.

Forcing institutions of higher education to concentrate on the retention and graduation of their students if they want to maintain their funding should improve student outcomes tremendously.

The Higher Education Coordinating Board has attempted to spark some changes in this area but has failed. Perhaps the infusion of funding from the Lumina Foundation will grab legislators' attention to bring about change more quickly.

As anyone who paid a college tuition bill last fall knows, a college education does not come cheap.

Students and parents footing the hefty costs could use some assistance in making sure their investments in higher education pays off.

URL: http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/

San Antonio Express-News