Proposed bill would tie tuition to inflation

(news) tuition

Since 2003, The Texas Legislature has relinquished the ability to set the price of college tuition to the Board of Regents of Individual University Systems (BRIUS). Since the deregulation of tuition was passed, Texans have noticed a steady rise in the cost of tuition.

Large universities, such as Texas A&M at Texarkana, have experienced a steady increase in tuition of over 130 percent as of 2013. Some attribute this trend to the BRIUS’ inability to cap the rate at which tuition costs can rise.

Senator Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, introduced SB 233, which would cap tuition cost at its value as of January 1, 2015, as well as prevent future tuition rates from rising beyond the current year’s rate of inflation.

Since its initial presentation, Schwertner’s bill has found an equal amount of support and criticism. Supporters claim that the current tuition increases make it unlikely for middle-class families to access higher education. Conversely, the bill’s opponents assert that this measure is a return to the state regulating tuition costs.

“(My bill) doesn’t have anything to do with re-regulating tuition,” said Schwertner, “just limiting the rate at which tuition is permitted to grow under the deregulated model.”

Before tuition prices were deregulated, UTSA’s tuition costs increased at an annual rate of 171 percent between 1993 and 2003. Interestingly, UTSA’s tuition has risen at a slower rate after tuition deregulation. Increased tuition rates dropped from 171 percent to 103 percent between 2003 and 2013.

Some students have felt a certain ambivalence toward the bill — a bulk of their tuition costs are covered by other means.

When asked if the change affected her ability to pay her tuition, UTSA student Julie Kupkowski said, “I paid for college through student loans, so it was just whether it got covered through my student loans or not. It was more like ‘this is the school I want to go to, so I’m going to pay what I have to pay and stay with it’.”

With UTSA being the exception to the rule, and some students barely noticing changes of any kind, it is still unclear what effect – if any – SB 233 will have on UTSA students and staff.

#TxLedge, #Higher Ed, #Tuition