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

State legislature proposes tuition freeze

By Steve Knight/managing editor

Texas’ four-year public universities would be forced to stop or limit increases in fees and tuition under proposals currently under consideration by the State Legislature during its 140-day biennial term.

Senate Bill 105, co-authored by TCC alumna Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, would keep tuition rates at 2008 levels, only allowing adjustments for inflation.

“Sen. Davis is very concerned about the rising cost of college,” said her spokesman Bernie Scheffler from Austin. “More families are being priced out.”

Scheffler, who also attended TCC, said the bill would bring tuition costs under control and turn regulatory oversight to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Under the bill, the amount of tuition charged to a student, including freshmen and transfer students, will not exceed the amount the school would have charged to a similar student in the 2008 school year, adjusted for inflation.

Students are similar if they share the same residency status, degree program, course load, course level, tuition exemption status and other circumstances affecting the tuition charged to the student.

Before March 1 of each year, the board would determine the inflation rate to be used in calculating tuition for the next school year.

Also under the bill, fees, unless authorized by law, can only increase with a majority of student approval at a campus election for that purpose.

Another author of SB105, Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said prices increased too much.

“As a former teacher, I have always supported funding for higher education. However, tuition rates have risen … more than 10 times the percentage we were told to expect under deregulation. That’s excessive,” Nelson said in a statement.

Only the Texas Legislature had the authority to set tuition rates until 2003, when the legislature passed a law allowing governing boards of public universities to set tuition rates.

“Having had five children in college, I understand the pinch caused by high tuition costs.  In this economy, we should not be pricing Texans out of higher education,” Nelson said.

Senate Bill 104, authored by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, would freeze tuition at 2008 rates for similar students, including freshmen and transfer students, taking tuition-setting control away from the university governing boards and ending deregulation.

Universities began increasing tuition in spring 2004.

From fall 2003 through fall 2007, the statewide average total tuition and fees for a student taking 15 hours at a public university has increased 53 percent, according to the coordinating board.

State university officials are keeping their eyes on developments in Austin.

“UT-Arlington is closely monitoring bills related to college tuition and it is too early to know what restrictions will emerge,” said Kristin Sullivan, UTA assistant vice president for media relations.

“We hope the state will continue to provide adequate funding to continue the critical missions of the University,” she said.

Dr. Cathie Jackson, TCC associate vice chancellor for student development and educational services, said the bill would only affect students attending or transferring to four-year public universities.

“TCC’s funding comes from our district’s tax base, so we will continue to be able to keep our tuition low,” she said.

According to the Texas Association of Community Colleges, tuition rates have increased only $4 per credit hour at TCC since 2004.

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