The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Higher Tuition Rates

For the third consecutive year since tuition was deregulated, public universities all across Texas will be seeing a definite hike in their tuition rates:

Tuition and fees will rise over the next two years at all nine University of Texas System institutions, including the University of Texas at San Antonio, according to proposals approved by regents Tuesday.

The boosts, which next year will range from 8 percent to 20 percent for the UT System, are needed to hire and retain faculty, beef up financial aid and compensate for stagnant state funding, university presidents said. UTSA and most other universities also tacked on a temporary charge to pay for rising energy prices.

At UTSA, students will pay 12 percent more in 2007 and 8 percent more the following year, including the energy fee. That means a student taking 15 hours will pay $3,093 this fall, up from $2,772 last year.

...

By fall 2007, tuition and fees at UTSA will have jumped 56 percent since lawmakers gave institutions the power to set tuition in 2003.

In return, administrators said, UTSA has hired 88 new faculty and seven student advisors and added 236 new academic courses.

There's a nifty graph at the bottom of the article that shows just how much a full-time tuition rate has gone up per year at UTSA. Don't be fooled by the marginal increase seen between 2004 and 2005. The UT system implemented a 5% cap for tuition and fee hikes that year as a response to the crazy tuition increases of the year before.

And there is a difference between a school like UTSA raising their tuition and a school like UT-Austin raising theirs. UTSA's population is growing dynamically and a large part of these tuition increases go to just covering the influx of new students, while UT-Austin has a more static student population- with some of the powers that be wanting to decrease the number of students who attend the mama institution- and I have no idea what their increases specifically go to. You'd have to ask the guys at BOR about that.

And Yudof's right when he says it's "flat out impossible" to keep up without increases. Which makes Van De Putte's following statement a little curious:

"I am extremely concerned that the rate of increase is pricing middle class families out of higher education," she said. "I don't know how they can justify raising it every year."

There is a middle ground on this argument though. Going back to the way things used to be with a cap of $2/hour tuition hikes doesn't help our universities until state funding makes up the vast majority of their budgets. And letting the insitutions decide their tuition increases themselves with oversight from a group of unelected appointees whose only qualification is giving alot of money to the Governor has been a failure.

Giving universities a bigger cap than the old $2/hour one to work with, think a cap of $10-15/hour, with much bigger oversight and safeguards than the Board of Regents, while also reversing the decades long trend of declining state support- however little it might initially be- would be my starting point.