The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Lawmakers delay attempts to decrease tuition expenses

By Charity Montieth/managing editor

Since the Texas legislature approved tuition deregulation allowing universities to set their own rates in 2003, tuition rates have soared erratically.

In fact, over the past four years, students’ tuition bills have increased by 40 percent, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

“ When we did tuition deregulation, I don’t think any of us anticipated that enormous number,” state Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) said on her Web site.

In response, several lawmakers set out to cut costs for students with three bills that would control tuition and one that would regulate the cost of college textbooks. However, now that the legislative session has reached its mid-point, most of those attempts have virtually stalled out.

Shapiro introduced Senate bill 100, which would stabilize tuition for students. If the measure passes, tuition would be locked at a student’s freshman rate for four years.

The bill was referred to the senate subcommittee and has yet to be debated or scheduled for public hearings.

Senate bill 85, a similar piece authored by Juan Hinojosa (D-Mission), would place a three-year freeze on all tuition increases. After the initial three-year period, tuition increases would be capped at 5 percent.

After recent public hearings in the Senate sub-committee on higher education, senate members opted to leave the bill pending in committee, making it appear unlikely the measure will see any debate on the senate floor.

Also left pending in committee is House bill 834, written by Charles Dutton (D-Houston). Under Dutton’s plan, a ceiling would be placed on in-state residential tuition rates, not to exceed a national average to be determined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The national average would be determined based on degree program, course load, course level, tuition status and other tuition-related circumstances. Resident tuition rates would require data from a minimum of five states in determining the national average tuition rate.

Policy makers are also looking at other means to control college expenses outside of tuition.

Scott Hochberg (D-Houston), Abel Herrero (D-Robstown), Fred Brown (D-Bryan) and Mark Veasey (D-Fort Worth) co-authored an extensive bill that calls for reducing the cost and regulating textbooks.

Under House bill 956, the Texas Higher Education Board would monitor the cost of all textbooks. Publishers would be required to keep textbooks in print for a minimum of three years unless specific technical information changes.

Unnecessary bundles would be eliminated as teachers would be required to choose only course-specific textbooks.

In the event a bundle is deemed course-specific, campus bookstores would be required to accept returns and exchanges on opened bundles.

A public hearing was recently held in the house committee on higher education.

H.B. 956 was met with major opposition from the Dallas County Community College system, and the committee resolved to leave the bill pending.

All attempts to deregulate tuition failed in 2005, but TCC students hope the legislature is successful in reducing tuition expenses.

“ It’s scary,” said Emily Wilkerson, NE Campus student. “I’m taking as many classes as I can at TCC because I can’t afford tuition at a university.”

Wilkerson, a non-traditional student, says she does not qualify for financial aid because of her husband’s income.

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