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No “budget” bachelor’s degrees

Here’s some more information on the futility of proposing a $10,000 pricetag (including books) for a bachelor’s degree in Texas without raising taxes or increasing higher education funding, as Gov. Rick Perry is advocating.

State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, today released data he obtained from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, showing the potential real-world implications of cuts in the higher education budget, as laid out in the House budget plan. This is the proposed budget that would cure the state’s revenue shortfall without raising taxes or spending any of the Rainy Day Fund, per Perry’s wishes.

If that budget were passed as is, and universities made up the cuts in appropriations with tuition increases alone, average tuition for a fulltime resident undergraduate student at a state-supported university would increase by $1,023 a year, Villarreal said. If universities passed through only half of the cuts in the form of higher tuition, tuition for the same student would increase, on average, by $511 a year.

According to the Coordinating Board, the starting House budget proposal, or House Bill 1, would reduce general revenue appropriations for higher education by $898 million over the next two years.

“The Coordinating Board cannot say how much, if any, decrease in state funding would be passed on by institutions as increases in designated tuition,” the Coordinating Board noted. “This would also likely vary significantly among institutions.”

But tuition is a likely source, Villarreal believes, because universities’ ability to absorb budget cuts without passing them on to students will be limited.

“The data demonstrate that Gov. Rick Perry’s recent call for making colleges more affordable, including a four-year degree that costs $2,500 per year, is in conflict with his own budget proposal,” Villarreal said.

In the fall of 2003, just after the Legislature and Perry deregulated university tuition, the average tuition and fees for a fulltime undergraduate Texas resident at a state-supported university was $1,934 per semester. At UT-Austin, the comparable figure was $2,721, and at the main Texas A&M campus, $2,357.

In the fall of 2009, after six years of repeated tuition increases from boards of regents, the statewide tuition and fees average was $3,323 per semester. At UT-Austin, it was $4,468, and at the main A&M campus, $4,343.

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