Gov. Rick Perry will call on Texas public universities to freeze tuition for the (first) four years a student attends, he said Friday night.
In discussing his intentions for higher education in the coming Legislative session, Perry said he would push for a freeze so that incoming students can know exactly how much tuition will cost them if they graduate in four years. Students who have too good of a time and require a fifth year would then have to pay a higher tuition rate.
“It makes sense to tell incoming freshmen: Here’s what your tuition is going to be,” Perry said at the Texas Tribune Festival on the UT campus.
The proposal follows on previous suggestions Perry has made for making higher education more affordable and accessible, including challenging the state’s colleges and universities to design and deliver a $10,000 four-year degree and to better utilize campus buildings.
The University of Texas at Dallas currently has fixed four-year tuition rates. They also happen to be the highest tuition rates in The University of Texas System.
Gary Susswein, a spokesman for UT-Austin, declined to comment on the four-year freeze, saying the proposal will be reviewed.
“We are very much in line with the goal of increasing four-year graduation rates,” Susswein said, with a target of 70 percent by 2016. “President Powers has said that ultimately that’s the best way to keep down higher education costs.”
Perry also sort of addressed rumors that he has it in for UT-Austin President Bill Powers.
“Bill Powers will be master of his own ship,” Perry said, but that the UT System regents will ultimately decide if he keeps his job. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but nor was it openly hostile.
Perry, a graduate of Texas A&M, did have some kind words for UT, the former arch-rival of his alma mater. Now that A&M is in the SEC and the Horns and Aggies no longer square off, he said he cheers for the Longhorns 365 days a year, instead of 364.
“I do have a thing about UT,” he said. “I love this university.”
Update: UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said today that while he supports the idea of fixed tuition for four years, he cautions against mandating it.
“Four-year fixed tuition should be an option at all institutions,” Cigarroa said. “But one size does not fit all.
Cigarroa added while UT-Dallas has had great success with four-year fixed tuition, is optional at UT-El Paso and many of the students there who work part-time decline fixed tuition for various reasons.
Alcalde file photo.