Monday, February 14, 2005

Tuition news

Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) has filed a bill to re-place caps on tuition. HB 1019 repeals certain provisions of the tuition deregulation bill, HB 3015, that the Lege. passed two years ago. Coleman's bill does not allow institutions of higher education to charge tuition rates that exceed rates established in Section 54.051 or 54.0512 of the Education Code (which is currently $50 per credit hour for resident undergraduate students). However, the bill still allows for institutions of higher education to set differing tuition and fee rates "for each program and course level the governing board considers appropriate to increase graduation rates, encourage efficient use of facilities, enhance employee performance, or further another legitimate purpose of the institution."

In Senate news, Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso) has filed SB 80, which amends the amount of financial aid set aside, as stipulated by HB 3015. Included as a provision for tuition deregulation, each public institution of higher education must set aside 20 percent of all tuition revenue collected for financial aid. SB 80 would raise that bar to 40 percent.

In 1999, Shapleigh - among other Democrats - created the TEXAS Grant program to help lower income students attend college. TEXAS Grants paid either all or a substantial portion of tuition and fee payments for thousands of Texas students. However, due to rapid increases in tuition from tuition deregulation, the TEXAS Grant program has been gutted, and SB 80 is Shapleigh's response to this.

Kip Averitt (R-Waco) has filed SB 470, which is a similar bill to Shapleigh's, but it gives more flexibility to the process: it sets aside 20 percent of all tuition revenue collected for financial aid, if the institution charges between $46 to $66 per semester credit hour; 30 percent if the institution charges betweeen $66 to $86 per semester credit hour; and 40 percent if the institution charges more than $86 per semester credit hour.


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