The steep price of tuition should be no surprise for students. UTSA is often considered to be a less expensive alternative to its flagship university– UT Austin. The average yearly tuition at UTSA is $8,410, books and supplies can cost up to $1,000 and room and board is estimated to cost $8,696 for the academic year. Struggling to pay nearly $100,000 for the average four-year degree, many students will graduate with thousands of dollars in debt from student loans.
According to a by survey College Board, over the past five years, tuition for public universities has risen 27 percent over inflation, and tuition at private universities has risen 13 percent over inflation.
In order to increase accessibility to higher education, President Barack Obama revealed a plan recently on his bus tour to incentivize lowering tuition, by ranking schools on a rating system. Universities with lower tuitions will be ranked higher; graduation rates and earnings of graduates will also factor into a school’s rating. Universities will then be awarded grants and financial aid based on the rating. The higher a school’s rating, the more federal aid they will be given.
Schools with students who receive a high number of Pell Grants will also be able to receive a “bonus.” This would serve as a financial incentive for schools to enroll moderate to low-income students.
Universities that have benefitted from increases in college tuition argue that the changes will cost them billions of dollars. President Obama argued that making college affordable is an, “economic imperative.”
“It’s gaming the market to keep prices artificially low, just like the interest rate,” claims junior, economics major Eli Uriegas. “The government will pump money into the system for a couple of years and once that stops, prices will normalize and then no one will be able to afford tuition.”
Obama’s proposal could potentially force colleges to slow their tuition increases, creating new burdens for schools already struggling to make ends meet.
Increasing tuition has been UTSA’s means to achieve Tier One status. In order to maintain this projection while continuing to raise tuition, UTSA must now focus on high graduation rates and successful post-graduates.
President Obama outlined other strategies to reform the cost of higher education, one of which includes expanding the “pay as you go” program. This program allows low-income graduates to cap their monthly debt repayments at 10 percent of their monthly income.
“Government shouldn’t see student loans as a way to make money, it should be a way to help students,” said President Obama who also discussed holding students more accountable.
“We’re going to make sure students who receive financial aid complete their courses before receiving grants for the next semester,” said the president. “We need to make sure if you’re getting financial aid, you’re doing your part to make progress to a degree.”
Under his proposal, federal financial aid would be dispersed throughout the semester, rather than being given in semesterly lump sums.
While President Obama acknowledged that, “These reforms won’t be popular with everybody…” the end goal is to ensure that, “students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck.”