State officials probe climbing tuition rates at public Texas universities

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State lawmakers are looking to find a way to regulate college tuition. Foti Kallergis reports.

State leaders are still waiting on top officials from Texas public universities to respond to a series of inquiries into why tuition rates continue to climb.

"Universities have lost sight of their primary mission," Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick stated in a letter to university chancellors and presidents earlier this month. "It is discouraging to see Texas higher education institutions seek to increase the financial burden faced by students and their families rather than developing methods to cut institutional costs."

In 2003, the Texas legislature voted to deregulate public universities. Since then, all higher education institutions have steadily raised tuition rates. By 2018, The University of Houston will have raised it tuition and fee rate by more than 140 percent. The university attributes the increase in tuition the decrease in state funds given to the university.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick instructed public university officials to provide the state a number of reports including a summary of current and future plans to raise tuition, tuition rates since 2002, annual fees since 2002, total academic charges since 2002, plans on reducing student debt or alternative degree pathways, four- and six-year completion rates, and financial aid reports since 2002.

The University of Houston issued the following state to abc13 late Monday:

"The cost of higher education and the value being delivered to students are critically important issues for The University of Houston. UH is committed to offering students access to an affordable, quality education. Tuition rates are given great consideration and must balance the resources needed for scholastic innovation with the costs incurred by students. The university has used tuition revenue to increase financial aid and invest in student success initiatives, such as enhancing instructional technology and expanding advising services, which has resulted in progress in key measures of student success, including rapidly improving graduation and retention rates.

We look forward to providing information to and working with our state leaders to address these critically important issues."

Some students fear they will have to go further in to debt to keep up with the rising tuition rates or may have to make the decision to drop out.

"For my brother, especially, it's going to be an issue because as his undergraduate goes on, because he's a freshman, tuition rates go up. We're going to have to take into concern how he is going to end up paying for college," said Kyle Knight.
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