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

Opinion-Legislature must pass tuition bill

The eyes of Texas’ four-year university students, educators and officials are on the Legislature this spring to see how the governing body solves the problem of skyrocketing tuition rates.

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, average tuition and fees for a student taking 15 hours at a public university have increased 53 percent since 2003, when the Legislature last held sole tuition-setting authority.

A number of bills await action by the Senate Committee on Higher Education, including Senate Bill 104, introduced by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, which halts tuition at 2008 rates with future increases requiring legislative approval.

Senate Bill 105, introduced by Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-Mission, and co-authored by TCC alumna Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, maintains tuition rates at 2008 levels for two years and allows adjustments for inflation set by the coordinating board.

Additionally, fees increase only with a majority of student approval in a campus election.

Each of the bills, if passed, takes authority for setting tuition rates away from university governing boards.

However, not all senators are endorsing the tuition reregulation bills.

The chairman of the committee, Sen. Judith Zaffini, D-Laredo, in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, said the state has a responsibility to fund higher education properly. 

“The unintended consequences of not funding higher education adequately and of not providing different sources of revenue will be mediocrity and inadequacy, and that’s not acceptable,” she said.

Hinojosa, in a November statement, said current tuition-setting plans create hardships on students.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with the current system. We tell high school students that hard work earns them passage to a public university in Texas. Once these graduates meet that standard, they are priced out of the very opportunity that motivated them in the first place. The ‘work hard and get ahead’ story has become a false promise for Texas high school seniors,” he said.

Hinojosa, elected to the Senate in 2002, said accessibility is the main issue.

“An investment in their education is an investment in Texas’ future. The tuition deregulation policy is making the dream of a college education only that — a dream,” he said.

The state needs to remove the financial burden from families and ensure accessibility to a first-class education by either increasing budgetary funds, finding additional revenue sources or allowing students more access to state grants.

The Legislature must take decisive action during this session.

It should pass Senate Bill 105.

No longer can students afford to shoulder most of the financial burden of obtaining a college education.

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