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Texas is falling behind with regard to college education. Other states – Florida and Indiana among them – are introducing innovative steps in the area of online college education, while Texas sits idly by and does little, if anything at all. In the 2019 Legislative Session, action must be taken to correct this.

The estimated direct cost of attendance at the University of Texas – Austin is approximately $21,000 for Texas residents. At Texas A&M University, it is roughly the same. At the University of Florida and the University of Indiana, the costs are basically the same for in-state students, with one notable exception – both have extensive online degree offerings for much cheaper.

At the University of Florida, a full year of online classes in an undergraduate degree program costs approximately $3,875 – more than 80 percent cheaper than its brick-and-mortar equivalent. In fact, a Florida resident can receive a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida for less than $16,000 by taking advantage of their online degree programs.

Likewise, at the University of Indiana, a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics can be obtained online for roughly $6,725 per year – making the total cost of the degree just under $27,000.

But despite online education being a goal of former-Governor Rick Perry, Texas lags behind other states.

At UT – Austin and Texas A&M, there are seemingly no fully online degree options. At Texas Tech University, there are only 10 online offerings, none of which are in major degree programs. And even if they were, the savings are minimal. A year in one of Texas Tech’s online degree programs would cost a Texas resident approximately $11,000 – nearly triple that of the University of Florida and almost double the University of Indiana.

To add insult to injury, a Texas resident could obtain an undergraduate degree online from the University of Florida for cheaper than they could at Texas’ best schools. The annual cost for out-of-state students at UF Online is $16,578 — more than $4,000 cheaper than UT – Austin and Texas A&M.

Why is it that Texas, long heralded as the most successful and innovative state in the union, is falling behind so drastically in the area of college education? Texans deserve the opportunity to obtain an affordable, high-quality college education. The legislature must act in 2019 to rectify this issue.

Both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University should have extensive online degree offerings affordable to everyday Texans. This will not only increase Texans’ access to affordable, high-quality education, it will increase the reach of Texas’ flagship universities and perhaps even incentivize them to lower costs in their on-campus degree programs.

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