AUSTIN – Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville) filed legislation today that would freeze public university tuition rates at their 2010-11 level, effectively repealing a law that allows public universities to set their own tuition rates.
In 2003, the Texas Legislature "deregulated" tuition, giving college governing boards the power to set their own tuition rates. Hilderbran, who led strong opposition to the 2003 measure, said that too many schools abused the power.
"Within six years, the average cost of tuition at Texas universities had increased 72 percent," Hilderbran said. "There are a lot of middle class Texans who don’t make enough money to pay for college out of their pocket, but they make too much to qualify for government assistance like the Pell Grant. Skyrocketing tuition rates are pricing these families out of higher education."
According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the average cost for tuition and fees increased from $1,934 per semester in fall 2003 to $3,323 per semester in fall 2009.
"I know some universities won’t be thrilled that they have to maintain their current spending levels, but that’s exactly what families and small businesses across the country have to do. In this economic environment, there is no reason we shouldn’t ask our public universities to do the same thing – especially if it means that more students will be able to afford a college degree," Hilderbran said.
"An educated workforce is vital for attracting jobs and keeping Texas competitive, and our public universities have done a great job of providing a world-class education. We just have to make sure students can afford to get that education," Hilderbran said.
If passed, Hilderbran’s bill would apply to tuition rates beginning with the fall 2011 semester.