West Texas rural colleges must therefore generate significant local membership. Community college tax rates around South Plains and West Texas are more than double those of colleges located in urban areas like Austin or Dallas.
West Texas officials reached an agreement with the local community. All students in Scurry County, the local tax base, can attend for free if they maintain certain grades and standards.
For many residents, it’s an impossible deal to refuse. Tanner Robertson, a sophomore of Snyder at Western Texas, never wondered where he would go after high school. “You graduate from Snyder High School and you go to the WTC,” he said. “That’s what you were brought up to do.”
Increasingly, Mr Dreith said, the school is working with property planners and businesses to fund its operations to secure its future.
“We spend as much time on this, unfortunately, because of the financial situation we’re in, as we spend on student success, which is really job 1,” he said, noting that the West Texas still has one of the highest communities. college graduation rate in the state.
South Plains’ financial situation is not as dire as it is less remote, but the schools’ concerns are similar, as are their aspirations. “Our goal is to support rural Texas,” said college president Kelvin Sharp.
“We can’t all live in Lubbock,” he said. “Some people have to live in Muleshoe, Plains or Denver City. And you must have a car mechanic, firefighters, nurses and everything we offer in technical education. You must have these basic services.