State representative critical of Texas A&M tuition hike

Friday, May 4, 2012 - 12:54pm

Austin - One day after University of Texas System Regents approved tuition hikes at most of their campuses, the Texas A&M Regents today increased tuition at several schools largely in response to the higher education budget adopted by Governor Rick Perry and his supporters in the legislature.

Undergraduate tuition is now set to increase for students at the following Texas A&M campuses: Prairie View, Tarleton State, International, Galveston, Central Texas, Commerce, Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Texarkana, and West Texas. Details on each increase are attached.

"It's a shame that Governor Perry and his supporters in the legislature are making higher education even more expensive for Texas students and families," said State Rep. Mike Villarreal, who voted against the state budget cuts for education. "Universities already made their own budget cuts in response to the loss of state funding. Unfortunately the legislature pushed them into a corner where raising tuition was the only way out. We need to invest in education and keep college affordable if we want to create jobs and grow our economy."

The legislature reduced higher education funding by $556 million in the current two-year budget despite the pressure of inflation and student enrollment in state universities rising from 532,000 in fall 2009 to 569,000 in fall 2011.

The proposed tuition increases will hurt students even more after the legislature reduced funding for financial aid. The Higher Education Coordinating Board projected 43,000 fewer students would receive assistance this biennium, although since that time universities have stretched their limited financial aid funding further by reducing the size of the awards to each student.

The funding strain in education is a result of state leaders' refusal to use any of the Rainy Day Fund for the current education budget and the state population growing three times faster than state revenue over the last decade. The Rainy Day Fund will exceed $7 billion by November 2012.

"The legislature could use a portion of the Rainy Day Fund to keep higher education affordable until state revenue rebounds and still leave billions of dollars in the Fund," said Rep. Villarreal. "Anyone pledging allegiance to Governor Perry's Budget Compact is pushing higher costs onto students and parents while refusing to use tax dollars already collected by the state."

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