AUSTIN, TX (KMID-KPEJ) –
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick bashed Texas universities Tuesday morning for raising tuition too high. Patrick said during a press conference that on average state tuitions have increased 147 percent since 2002, almost five times more than the average family brings home.
“We are pricing the average family out of a college education in the state of Texas,” Patrick said, “and we are saddling students and families with tremendous debt.”
In 2015, the average cost to attend college in Texas for the fall semester was $4,179, totaling more than $33,000 for all four years. Patrick said high prices drive Texans out of a college education simply because they cannot afford it.
“People did not send us here to Austin to allow our universities to raise tuitions five times higher than their salaries,” Patrick said. “This is not a battle between the legislature and the universities. This has to end.”
Following the press conference, state lawmakers took up the issue during the Senate Committee on Higher Education. The committee, led by State Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), heard testimony from university leaders who tried to explain to lawmakers the rise in costs.
“Our job is to take a state of 25 million people and provide a college education for as many of those people as we can,” Seliger said. “This is going to be the start of a very very robust discussion about educational priorities, and maybe more importantly those priorities that exist in academia that have nothing to do with education or academics.”
Patrick says he hopes lawmakers figure out a way to lower the cost of college tuition by 25 percent next year. In doing so, several chancellors suggested on Tuesday cutting administrative costs.
John Sharp, Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, said he would be okay with a 5-6 percent administrative cost cap. Sharp also said he has tried cutting costs by making used and online textbooks more readily available and by reducing the cost of living in a dorm during the summer months.
“The future needs to change,” Patrick said, “starting today.”