Tuition Increases at UT Dallas and UT Austin for Next Fall
Illinois isn’t the only state where serious tuition increases have made it more and more difficult for the average person to get into college. While tuition rates have doubled over the last decade at public universities in Illinois, a vote this past week by regents at the University of Texas approved tuition increases for the next two years, across thirteen of the fourteen total campuses and institutions. Most of the campuses agree that this is necessary, but some members of the board were less sure about whether or not this was the right decision.
Earlier this year, regents had already voted to raise tuition by nearly three percent in 2016. For students entering UT-Dallas this year, that meant that they would pay an additional $178 more than previous students would. By the fall semester of 2017, students will be paying a total of $6,504 per semester to attend that campus. Increases are likely going to be more significant if the student is not a resident of Texas, with tuition jumping from $16,324 for this past fall semester in 2015 to $17,284 in the fall of 2017. While these increases might seem staggering for the students who are going to have to pay higher tuition prices, the original proposal was actually to hike tuition by more than six percent, making a resident undergraduate’s tuition $6,536 for the 2016 fall semester, with another rate jump next year. The only reason this proposal was abandoned is because undergraduates and officials began to raise concerns about being able to afford such a steep rise in the cost of their educations in such a short amount of time. The interim president of UT-Dallas noted that they were ultimately concerned about what type of attention the university would be getting with such a severe increase in rates over such a short span of time. Instead of increasing the tuition rate all at once, they decided instead to adopt a staggered increase of prices, with tuition fixed at the price the student originally paid when they began their education (for a maximum of four years) on some campuses. What a student pays as a freshman at UT-Dallas is what they will pay as a senior, though this is the only University of Texas campus that has stuck to this program. Over at UT-Austin, these newly accepted tuition increases will affect all students.
The vote, though ultimately in favor of increasing prices, was split, with many regents taking a stand against raising tuition. Some voted not to raise tuition at all, while others voted only to increase tuition at a few of the campuses. Their reasons for voting for or against varied, with some regents citing that if they raised prices too much, they were concerned that lawmakers would take away the power for regents to decide tuition prices at all. Others said that they have spent too much time talking about how to increase tuition and not nearly enough time talking about how to decrease or at least mitigate the cost of an education. Some regents even criticized how some of the campuses spent their money, dumping it into hiring expensive professors who didn’t bring in their own funding, but instead did research that would improve the campus’s national rankings. One, like Alex Cranberg, even said that he was against any tuition increases that did not directly reflect the rising costs of education due to inflation and noted that at some point, the cost of attending school will be too great for the value of the education that is being provided there. This has been a major concern not just with the regents, but with the students, too, who are continually struggling to find enough money to pay for their education as tuition prices continue to increase. Many feel that even though the cost of learning is rising, the quality of the education and services they are provided is not rising, making it less and less valuable to attend that university.
At some point, the cost of learning will exceed the value and people will simply stop enrolling. After the vote, many regents noted that they were not concerned that lawmakers would see fit to take away the right of the regents to set tuition prices and that all increases in tuition were directly reinvested into the campuses, to provided better programs for the students learning there. All agreed that the proposal was accepted only after great deliberation and that this increase schedule is much preferable to the massive 6.4% increase that was originally proposed.