Monday, March 17, 2014

History Lesson: When Dan Branch raised your college tuition

[Update 3/20/2014:  According to the Texas House Journal, Paxton voted for Tuition dereg. This conflicts with the YCT ratings linked originally. While we don't know which is accurate, we suspect it's the journal.  We're looking into it.  Whether or not Paxton voted for it, Branch was the guy who pushed it behind the scenes.]
From the Dallas Morning News in 2012:

AUSTIN — Texas students are paying 55 percent more for tuition and fees at state universities a decade after lawmakers lifted restrictions on costs, putting some of Texas’ premier universities out of reach for many families, an analysis by The Dallas Morning News shows.

Tuition is up 9.1 percent this school year from 2010-11, the last before the Legislature’s major budget cuts of 2011. The average cost for a typical semester for a state resident is an estimated $7,533 this year.

Dominic Chavez, spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, said the problem is ... bloated institutions.


Gov. Rick Perry touts a $10,000 bachelor’s degree he’s pushing universities to develop, but some question whether corners would be cut to provide the same quality education as a more expensive degree. And on Friday, he called for a freeze in tuition rates for four years.


While the average tuition hovered in the upper $4,000s before deregulation, students have seen a wide range of fluctuations in the nine years since then.

The cost at Beaumont’s Lamar University is up 90 percent from 2003-04, whereas the University of Houston at Clear Lake, based on estimates of this year’s costs, has only raised tuition 35 percent in the same time frame.

The University of Texas at Dallas is the most expensive public university in the state — $11,592 for the current year — surpassing the Austin flagship, but freshmen are locked in at that rate for the four years they remain at UTD.
As TPPF detailed in 2010:
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition increased 47 percent between 2004 and 2008 at public universities statewide. During that same time period, tuition increased a more modest 28.9 percent at private universities in Texas. Based on these numbers, it is seems reasonable that some legislators view the dramatic tuition increases after 2003 as a direct consequence of the policy.


One problem is the out-of-control university spending that is enabled by the lack of free higher education market. The same economic principles apply to universities as apply to any other provider of services or goods. In this case, the good is education. Students who want to purchase this good can decide for themselves if the cost is worth the product.

Unfortunately, this economic exchange is skewed in higher education because of excessive government involvement in the market, as well as the prestige placed on degrees from the state’s research universities whether justified or not.


Another fundamental problem with tuition deregulation is that universities got to have their cake and eat it too – they can increase tuition however much they see fit while continuing to receive state funding.

So, who should set tuition: the legislature or universities?

The problem is that both tuition-setting methods are inherently flawed. Neither allows the market to determine the appropriate price of tuition.

Infusing competition into a highly regulated higher education market is the best way to address the problem of unbridled university spending and the resulting tuition increases. Placing state funds in the hands of students rather than universities – i.e., distributing state support for higher education through student scholarships rather than campus appropriations – would make it necessary for universities to improve quality and keep costs low in order to stay in business.
More from YCT:
When the policy was proposed in 2003, my organization, Young Conservatives of Texas, opposed it from the beginning. YCT understood that the proposed policy would not “deregulate” higher education. It wouldn’t expand competition or end government favoritism, to allow the best providers to win in t he battle for their customers, Texas students.

Instead, the policy merely transferred the power to set tuition and fees from the elected Texas legislature, a body that was accountable to t he people, to an unelected body; the appointed boards of regents.

This is the underlying problem with the tuition deregulation.

What many conservatives who supported the tuition “ deregulation” policy forgot was that our public universities are government agencies; no different than our department of transportation or department of public safety. All owing them unlimited control to set the fees they charge Texas families would be no different than allowing the department of transportation to charge anything they would like f or license plates.

Without restraints, government bureaucracies will always find some way to rationalize their need for more tax dollars. As President Ronald Reagan once wittily proclaimed: “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal wit h a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

In the decade spanning from 1998 to 2008, my alumnus, The University of Texas at Austin served as a poster child for that lack of responsibility. The University’s budget more than doubled from 997 Million to 2.076 Billion . While I’m sure that UT President Bill Powers would provide an emphatic defense of every dollar of that spending. However, there are some critics that can question him, and with good cause. According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, administrative costs have risen to 14% of Higher Education budgets. Productivity decline over the last quarter century has become the norm in higher education. It now takes 21 employee s to educate every 100 students. This is compared to 18 employees for every 100 students in 1970. These facts lead one to believe that our university administrators are not interested in efficiency so much as they’re interested in using other people’s money to fund their pet projects.


The universities instead have tapped their new found resource ... Texas families. Students and their families after 2003 became the path of least resistance for university administrators wishing to take-in and spend more mo ney. In the race to expand their budgets, administrators have rapidly increased tuition. Across the state, total academic costs have grown by 53% from $1934 in 2003 to $2,952 in 2007.

Now who, pray tell, pushed (and voted for) tuition 'deregulation'?!?

THAT'S RIGHT: Representative Dan Branch; Ken Paxton, by contrast, voted against it!!!

But who cares about debt crippling a generation of Texans when you can get free football tickets from Bill Powers?!?

1 comment:

  1. Amid that same era, educational cost expanded a more unassuming 28.9 percent at private colleges in Texas. it is appears to be sensible that a few officials see the emotional educational cost increments after 2003 as an immediate outcome of the approach. best essay writing service is able to supply high quality and on time writing services with guarantee that is best service from others any suppliers.


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