State legislature taking a look at the rising cost of college

Over the past few years, college tuition has been on the rise, and may be about to go up again.

Will Anderson

Over the past few years, college tuition has been on the rise, and may be about to go up again.

Tuition rates across the nation have been steadily rising over time, however they are increasing quicker than the inflation rate, meaning people have less and less money to afford the higher tuition. In order to combat this problem, the Texas Senate recently approved a bill that will require universities to meet a majority of 11 performance requirements before they are able to raise college tuition beyond the inflation rate. Now, the bill will head to the house for further debate.

“If an institution wants to charge more, they must provide more,” republican member of the Texas Senate Kel Seliger said to the Dallas Morning News. “Their performance must justify the higher tuition.”

When the tuition rate is beyond inflation, problems can be created.

“The economic standpoint is there is very little inflation right now in the economy, but with tuition prices changing by 8 to 10 percent every year it is outpacing that,” economics teacher Bruce Dillow said. “When you look at it, wages aren’t increasing at the same rate and parents are having to pay that out for the most part and they can’t do it because their income isn’t high enough to be able to do that or isn’t changing enough to be able to do that. That is where the whole loan situation comes in and people get out of college and basically have another mortgage payment waiting for them when they get out of college.”

The average student leaves college with so much debt nowadays that it is hard for them to stay out of poverty.

“It’s a tough situation because I read a deal not too long ago that the average student is walking out of college with about $38,000 in debt,” Dillow said. “That is just the average student, for doctors and such it is much higher. Basically people are getting out of college with so much debt it’s getting harder on them to be able to stay even above the poverty line sometimes after they get out of college so from the economic standpoint the costs are just absolutely skyrocketing.”

For people paying college tuitions, the rate of increase in tuition over the years is very noticeable.

“From one who is paying tuition right now, it is just unbelievable,” Dillow said. “We pay out of state tuition, not Texas tuition, but it is just unbelievable how those jump every year 10 or 12 percent in just the tuition rates. College is just getting to where it is unaffordable almost.”

For larger families, regulating college tuition would help families pay for all their kids to go to college.

“I think it’s a good thing because tuition is too expensive now and families with multiple children are struggling to pay for college,” senior Kate Hawley said. “All states should do this and follow Texas’ example. This would be particularly helpful for my family because we have three kids and by the time it takes effect it would make tuition cheaper for my younger brother and easier for the whole family. I do see the negative side however, because colleges need money to improve their academics and research facilities.”

The bill passed the state Senate with a great majority voting in favor.

“I think the bill has the best intention, obviously passing 29-2 means the legislature is taking into account that things are out of control and they are actually trying to do something about it,” college counselor Randy Trevino said.

Trevino believes that this is a step in the right direction towards keeping colleges accountable.

“A progressive step to keeping colleges accountable is right in line,” Trevino said. “I think that is a pretty good measure to help students. Colleges are in this arms race where they have to keep up with each other in order to attract the best students. Sometimes that affects tuition and I think this will hold them more accountable to providing the very best for students before they can raise their tuition rates. I think it’s pretty good and I really think it will help students and their parents with the bottom line financially.”

Although many people think that this measure would be helpful, others are unsure of the practicality of the idea.

“The idea that you can cap one state’s college and university tuition according to performance is a noble idea in principle, but there is no way of measuring performance of a university against a tuition increase,” APUSH teacher Brian Erskine said. “What is going to end up happening is that the federal government will probably intervene and prevent it from happening because you don’t get your student loans from the state, you get it from the government. I think Texas deserves some credit for trying to address it because it is a huge problem. I don’t see it having any lasting effect.