AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has endorsed a revised method of funding public universities and community colleges in a money-saving move.

Board members, during a meeting Thursday in Austin, also approved plans for putting a greater emphasis on merit for certain financial aid.

The cost-saving proposals go to Governor Rick Perry and the 2011 Legislature.

A preliminary count found statewide enrollment this fall is up 7.2 percent from a year ago, to 1.5 million students. The figures include all post-secondary institutions except private, for-profit colleges, according to the board.

“We want to reinvent public higher education reinvent it in a more cost-efficient way and reinvent it in a way that gives better academic results,” said Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes. “And we think that we can do that. I’m sure we’ll need more financial resources over time, but not nearly as much as we would need if we didn’t change the way we deliver education.”

The recommendations on cost-cutting were developed for the coordinating board by a 20-member advisory panel of higher education leaders and business executives, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The board wants 10 percent of the base funding for universities to be indexed to so-called “student outcomes,” such as graduation rates, total degrees awarded, degrees awarded to students from low-income families or those otherwise deemed at-risk, plus degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.

About 10 percent of community college funding would be on the basis of degrees awarded, certificates completed, college-level math course completions and other performance measures, according to the proposal.

Base funding currently is strictly a function of enrollment.

The board also wants to step up the merit component in allocation of Texas Grants to students from low-income families, with priority going to students with strong academic credentials.

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