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5 Texas Laws College Students Should Know

5 Texas Laws College Students Should Know

College can be a difficult setting to navigate as a young adult. It’s even more intimidating when you are moving to a new state on your own for the first time. Acclaimed higher education and excellent public school districts are some of the leading reasons why people are rapidly moving to Texas. Part of becoming accustomed to your new neighborhood and school is knowing local and state laws. We will go over state laws college students should know as a part of moving to Texas. If you are already living in Texas, some of these laws might be familiar to you. Nevertheless, here are five areas of Texas law college students should know:

  • Texas residency
  • Meningitis vaccination
  • Anti-hazing laws
  • Internet access to course information
  • Class withdrawals

Note: This article is for educational purposes only and not to be taken as professional legal advice. Please consult with your attorney for more information.

Texas residency

Texas universities require that students register as either a Texas resident, non-resident, or as a foreign student. Although this residency status is separate from tax residencies, it is still an important status to be aware of. That’s because universities charge tuition rates and offer financial aid depending on Texas residency status. Residency questions as designed by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board are a part of the application process of public universities. 

There are multiple ways to claim Texas residency according to Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §21.24 and the Texas Education Code (TEC) §54.052. Those claimed as independents on taxes can claim residency by maintaining a domicile for 12 months preceding the enrollment date of the academic semester. Dependents have two ways of claiming residency. Either through their parents claiming domicile for 12 months as an independent or by receiving the equivalent of a high school diploma in Texas and residing in Texas for the preceding 36 months prior to graduation. This second path does not require US citizenship to be claimed as a Texas resident and was added to the TEC in 2001. Non-Texas residents and some non-US citizens are able to claim Texas residency under different qualifications listed in TAC §21.24. 

Meningitis vaccination

Laws college students should know about include laws that determine enrollment requirements. In Texas, public and private higher education institutions must show proof of the student receiving a bacterial meningitis vaccination or booster shot five years prior to enrollment. According to TEC §51.9192, proof of vaccination can be submitted via a certificate signed by a health practitioner or an official immunization record. Proof needs to be submitted at least 10 days before the start of the semester. However, not all college students are required to receive a bacterial meningitis vaccination. Students do not need to show proof of vaccination if:

  • The student is over 22 years of age on their first day of enrollment
  • A student is only enrolled in online or distance learning programs
  • The student submits an affidavit signed by a licensed, registered physician or by the student themselves for the reason of conscience.

Anti-hazing laws

Texas is one of 44 states that have made hazing an illegal practice. Hazing is any intentional activity that endangers or humiliates a student pledging, initiating, or maintaining membership in an organization. Although it is most often associated with fraternities and sororities, hazing can occur in any university organization or extracurricular activity. In 2018, it was found that 26% of college students involved in college organizations had experienced hazing. However, it is believed that this number is a low estimate because of student’s hesitancy to label negative behaviors as hazing. TEC §37.152 and §37.153 dictate the personal and organizational offenses of hazing ranging from Class B misdemeanors to state jail felonies. Lastly, every Texas university is required to remind students of its disciplinary rules for hazing every semester under TEC §51.936. 

Internet access to course information

Other Texas laws college students should know about grant Internet access to course information relevant to class registration. House Bill (HB) 2504 passed in 2009 amended TEC §51.974 to increase transparency between higher education institutions and the public. One addition required all undergraduate course syllabi and curriculum vitae (CV) to be made available on the institution’s website. Searching for a Texas university and HB 2504 will usually bring you to view syllabi and CVs by department, instructor, or semester. 

Here’s why this is so important for college students. When deciding which classes to register for, search for previous syllabi to compare the same course between different sections and professors. According to TEC §51.974, syllabi should include university standards, major assignment/exam descriptions, reading lists, and a general description of the course and its lectures. Knowing this information will save you the effort of guessing class structure, grading expectations, and required class supplies. 

Class withdrawals

Plenty of people choose to drop a college course out of financial trouble or stress. But there is a law college students should know about that limits dropping undergraduate courses. According to TEC §51.907, students can only drop six undergraduate courses that do not reflect a withdrawal from the university. These six classes include any dropped courses from previously attended public community colleges or universities in Texas. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recognizes exceptions for drops to count toward the six-course limit such as severe illness. Students can also meet with academic advisors for appeals or unaddressed reasons for dropping a class to not count in the six-course limit. 

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