For most of Texas history, tuition rates at public colleges and universities were set by the Texas Legislature. That changed in 2003 when lawmakers “de-regulated” tuition and voted to give the state universities the ability to set their own rates, with proponents arguing increased competition between universities would result in better rates and returns for students.
Sadly, such “de-regulation” didn’t improve college affordability—it made it worse.
Once power shifted from electorally accountable lawmakers to unaccountable boards of regents, tuition levels shot up. Rather than reduce rates as hoped, public universities seized the opportunity to increase their budgets, more than doubling the cost of student tuition and fees in defiance of opposition from lawmakers who had been assured higher rates would not be the result of the transfer of authority.
In light of the poor results that tuition “de-regulation” has achieved, many lawmakers and citizens have been calling for reform. Leading voices such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) have advocated that the legislature revoke universities’ ability to set their own rates. Meanwhile, they would freeze tuition at current rates.
Opposition can be expected from Democratic lawmakers who favor increased university funding, and Republican university surrogates – especially those allied with the cabal of University of Texas administration and apologists.
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