Rep. Helen Giddings (D-DeSoto) filed a bill, HB 700, that would eliminate the state’s B-On-Time student loan program.

The B-On-Time loan is a state forgivable loan funded by 5 percent of student tuition, according to Thomas Melecki, the University’s director of student financial services. Students on the loan receive $4000 per semester. The loan requires students graduate in four years with no more than six credit hours than needed by their degree plan.

The House Higher Education committee left the bill pending after a public hearing held Wednesday. The bill would stop enrollment for the loan in September 2015, but current borrowers would be eligible for continued funding.

Under HB 700, funds previously used for the loan would be granted directly to the institution from which they were collected to establish other aid programs, such as grants, loans or work-study programs.

“In many cases, it’s virtually impossible for students to get out in four years,” Giddings said. “We believe that a better outcome will be received if universities are able to structure a financial aid program from these dollars that will meet the needs of students at their institutions.”

Portions of the funds go unused statewide, and universities are not allocated the full value collected from student tuition. Giddings said these factors motivated her to file the bill. In 2014, more than $11 million of the B-On-Time fund were not used.

Melecki said part of the discrepancy is because of universities’ inability to advertise the loan. B-On-Time is classified as a private loan, preventing universities from prompting the funding, Melecki said. Student’s must know about the loan and ask for it to be considered.

“The B-On-Time loan program is a fabulous program from a student’s point of view,” Melecki said. “But, with that gag-rule, there are too many students who don’t know about it, and, with the way the legislature has been sitting on B-On-Time money that is collected by the state, we send money down that our students spend in tuition that we never get back to help our students.” 

Roshni Varghese, applied learning and development senior and one of 716 students at UT using B-On-Time loans, said most people do not know about the loan.

“I actually told one of my friends about it when she was a senior in college, and she had never even heard of it,” Varghese said. “I’ve only had one other friend who has ever tried or gotten it, ever.

The House budget, as currently written, would cut B-On-Time funding by $25.3 million. The Senate budget would decrease it by $12.2 million.

“The Appropriations Committee does anticipate, in the House anyway, that the B-On-Time loan is just going to fund renewals,” said Giddings, a member of the Appropriations Committee. “If someone has already enrolled, we’re not going to jerk the rug out from under them.”

Varghese said the loan is beneficial for students, such as herself, who do not qualify for need-based loans and grants because of their parents’ incomes but are essentially paying their way through school.

“The good thing about the B-On-Time loan was that it didn’t matter if you technically needed it or not; it was still there for you to get,” Varghese said.

Desoto running back Dontre Wilson flipped his commitment from Oregon to Ohio State in a Monday night press conference.

Wilson, who is rated as the fifth-best all purpose back in the nation by, had initially verbally committed to the Ducks on May 25, but reopened his commitment after former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly left the school to fill the head coaching vacancy for the Philadelphia Eagles.

In addition to Ohio State and Oregon, Wilson also considered Texas. He spent this past weekend in Austin visiting with members of the UT coaching staff, meeting players and touring campus. Evidently, it wasn’t enough to secure his commitment.

“I just feel like [Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer] has something good going on. They could have gone to the National Championship this year if they were able to go to a bowl game,” Wilson said to KDFW’s Max Morgan.

Today wasn’t a total recruiting bust for the Longhorns though. Earlier in the day, Texas received a verbal commitment from Palo Duro safety/wide receiver Montrel Meander. Meander flipped his commitment from Washington State to Texas after visiting campus this weekend.

Though most schools offered Meander as a safety, Texas will give him the chance to play wide receiver next year, which seems to have played a major part in his decision.

Texas now has 15 verbal commitments for the 2013 class. The Longhorn coaching staff hopes to add at least one more before National Signing Day, which could come from Waco defensive tackle Andrew Billings. Billings will announce his decision at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Texas Longhorns football commits perform in first round of playoffs

Plenty of Longhorn commits were in action over the weekend as first round of the Texas High School Playoffs kicked off. Here are the results, with each team’s future Longhorn listed in parentheses.

· Barbers Hill 31 – Livingston (Chevoski Collins, ’13 ATH) 0

· Southlake Carroll 65 – Arlington Martin (Kyle Hicks, ’13 RB) 7

· DeSoto 62 – Harker Heights (Naashon Hughes, ’13 LB, Darius James, ’13 OL) 15

· Cibolo Steele (Erik Huhn, ’13 S) 49 – San Antonio Marshall 17

· Dallas Jesuit (Jake Oliver, ’13 WR) 45 – McKinney Boyd 10

· Lake Highlands (Kent Perkins, ’13 OL) 42 – Plano West 35

· Celina (Jake Raulerson, ’13 ATH) 58 – Krum 27

· Alief Elsik 38 – Cypress Falls (Jacorey Warrick, ’13 WR) 10

· Langham Creek 38 – Eisenhower (Donald Catalon, ’14 RB) 21

· Denton Guyer (Jerrod Heard, ’14 QB) 42 – Saginaw 14

· Abilene Cooper (Lorenzo Joe, ’14 WR) 40 – El Paso Americas 14

· San Antonio Brennan (Derick Roberson, ’14 DE) 42 – Boerne Champion 24

The week’s most impressive performance went to 2014 quarterback Jerrod Heard of Denton Guyer, who threw for 246 yards and ran for 104 more, accounting for three total touchdowns according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. Denton Guyer will take on Aledo in the second round next Saturday.

Harker Heights 2013 center Darius James played his first game since breaking his foot in the first game of the season, but it wasn’t enough to stop DeSoto. James and 2013 linebacker Naashon Hughes were both roughed up in 62-15 loss.

James and Hughes weren’t the only commits to have their high school careers cut short over the weekend though. 2013 running back Kyle Hicks had to watch from the sideline as his Arlington Martin team lost 65-7 to perennial power Southlake Carroll. Hicks injured his knee in the last regular game of the season, and was not healthy enough to play this week.

The second round of the playoffs will open this Friday.