AUSTIN, Texas -- A change could be coming to the way Texas funds its higher education system.
On Wednesday, Texas educators met with state lawmakers getting down to the tough task of rethinking the state's funding formulas. The meeting comes after the legislature failed to do so during the regular session.
"This is an exercise of how do we get more Texans through higher education with certificates and degrees," said Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin).
After a session where efforts to revamp the system failed, lawmakers in the joint committee have until April to come up with recommendations on a new higher education funding plan.
Some are again proposing funding structures that reward universities for their performance.
"There will be competition because we only have so much money to spend. We can't just hand every institution a blank check," said Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills).
One proposal would take into account the challenges, and extra costs, of ensuring students of all walks of life can earn a diploma.
"$500 for the graduation of a non-at-risk student, and $1,000 for the graduation of an at-risk student," said Stewart Stedman, Vice Chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Most educators at Wedensday's hearing appeared to be in favor of performance-based funding.
"Because at the end of the day it's important to bring students in, but it's more important to graduate students," said Texas State University President Denise Trauth.
Though some schools like UT Austin say they've been able to up graduation levels without any incentives.
"We deliver on the funds that you appropriate, no matter what the allocation scheme is," said UT Austin President Greg Fenves.
But amid a push to streamline how universities are funded, a call from smaller schools to keep so-called "special items," extra payments to schools meant for specific projects or startup costs.
"Because the small institutions really don't have the economies of scale that it takes to drive the formula funding the way the formula is set out," said University of Houston Victoria President Vic Morgan.
But some lawmakers argue special items have ballooned into re-occurring costs.
It is a higher education system full of different funding needs, but with a shared goal of educating, and preparing Texas students for the future.