Monday, March 14, 2005

Tuition Relief bills filed

These will be discussed later this week, I think on Wednesday at the press conference on Higher Education.

Rep. Gallego (D-Alpine):

  • HB 2687 is similar to Rep. Garnet Coleman's HB 1019, only this has a shot of going somewhere. This will at least get a hearing by the House Higher Education Committee, but I'm pretty sure that Craddick will try hard to prevent it from passing on to the Senate. Actually, I'm not even sure if it will get to the House floor since Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, is the also the chair of the Higher Ed. Committee and author of the tuition deregulation bill, HB 3015, from last session. I know that Craddick and Morrison worked closely to get HB 3015 passed two years ago.

    Craddick was the one, after all, who revived tuition deregulation when it appeared dead in the water: when Lt. Gov. Dewhurst proposed pumping $500 million in new money into higher education, Craddick said he would allow it only if deregulation was put back into HB 3015. After a closed-door, 8 hour meeting (where they also discussed other things..), deregulation was back on the table and eventually passed.

    But since the Senate controls the budget this session - each session, the House and the Senate alternate between controlling the budget - instead of the House, it might have to be a Senate bill that would put caps back on tuition...

  • HB 2688 is very similar to but not the exact same as SB 1400 (see below). It says that a university cannot charge a student more than a 3 percent increase in total tuition and compulsory fees than the previous year.

Sen. Ellis (D-Houston):

  • SB 1389 also takes into account total tuition and compulsory fees charged by an institution, as well as the family's income, in determining tuition caps.

  • SB 1398 relaxes the requirements on qualifying for a tuition equalization grant. Basically, SB 1398 says that a student can simply qualify for a TEXAS Grant to be eligible for a TEG. Also, there is no minimum requirement for the number of hours a student must take; the student must only be enrolled in a university.

  • When deregulation went through, 20 percent of all tuition collected was designated as financial aid for other, more needy students. SB 1399 clarifies the language for this financial aid to say that this tuition revenue is allocated to "need-based" financial aid. HB 3015 also said that if a university increases their tuition past $46 per semester credit hour, then 5 percent of that revenue would also be set aside for financial aid - but this 5 percent is considered part of the other 20 percent of all tuition and fees charged (that is, without regard to specific tuition rates). SB 1399 would tweak this to say that the 5 percent is in addition to the 20 percent.

  • SB 1400 is very similar to Gallego's 2688 (see above). SB 1400 would say that a
    university can't charge a student more than a 5% increase from the
    year before.

  • SB 1554 is a full rollback of tuition deregulation. It would negate the tuition increases from the past two academic years by requiring that tuition rates for the next academic school year, 2005-06, could not exceed a 5 percent increase from the 2002-03 school year. This bill doesn't have a snowball's chance in Texas of passing. Well, wait just a goshdarn second, it did snow this year! On Christmas Eve, after about 5 minutes of scraping snow off my windshield, I did make a single snowball to throw at my sister! Boy am I excited..


At 6:26 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

ummm.... there was a press conference?

At 8:33 AM, Blogger imasuit said...

Yeah there was supposed to be. My guess is that they'll push it back until after Spring Break ends so that the kiddos can be there too.

At 1:40 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Okay, suit. I'm sure I'll make some calls on those bills. I checked out the agenda for higher ed today and thought I might skip it, unless I start having deep thoughts on bonds.

roving reporter

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