Students shocked by rising tuition costs

Andrew Messamore

Students are shocked by the quickly rising cost of tuition, said government junior Adrian Reyna.

On Monday, the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee proposed the largest tuition increase allowed over the next two academic years. If the TPAC proposal is implemented by the UT System Board of Regents, in-state undergraduate tuition could increase 2.6 percent each year, meaning $127 more per semester in 2012-13 and $131 more each semester in 2013-14 for full-time students. In addition, out-of-state undergraduate and graduate tuition rates would increase by 3.6 percent each year, meaning $550 more per semester in 2012-13 and $650 per semester in 2013-14 for full-time students.

This increase in tuition runs counter to the University’s objective to increase four-year graduation rates, stated as a primary objective in President William Powers Jr.’s address to the University earlier this year, Reyna said.

“Many of my friends couldn’t come back because they couldn’t pay their loans or get enough scholarships,” Reyna said. “It’s very sad to see adequate students who could have graduated leave for money reasons.”

Students have left and returned to the University only after becoming able to pay for tuition, such as linguistics junior Ian Merritt, a Louisiana native who took a year off to establish residency and work full-time.

In the past he supplemented his work income with loans to pay for his tuition, but said that problems in the Legislature and recent cuts from the state have forced him to now rely mostly on his own means.

“Back in June, FAFSA told me I’d qualify for a lot of loans, but a month or so later I got a notice that Congress was undecided about the funding, and all of a sudden those loans that were in the thousands became zeros,” Merritt said.

Many undergraduates have done the opposite of extending their time at UT and have tried to graduate in less than the recommended four years in order to avoid massive debt after graduation, said supply chain management junior Omar Ghani.

“I’m not going to take $6-7000 in debt to stay here another semester,” Ghani said. “If people take on more debt to graduate and not think about the long-term effects, it’s going to bite them later.”

Some students have decided to delay attending UT due to the rising cost of tuition.

International anthropology senior Daniel Machado attended Austin Community College for his first two years of college and only recently transferred since ACC’s tuition was lower.

“The tuition increase is going to impact who comes here,” Machado said. “It’s going to give UT a new face. Number one, you’ll probably see a lot less freshman. Why pay when you can just transfer in?”

Graduate students have been affected in other ways due to the loss of funding from the state, said American studies graduate student Emily Roehl.

“It’s fairly common to see people take on complementary or seasonal jobs, I was working four last summer,” Roehl said. “There’s only a few grants, and people just end up taking on more loans, and because money is so tight right now in the humanities I think that’s made the field really competitive.”

Ultimately, there are other ways to improve education at UT and hiking tuition is not the best option, said American studies senior Nick De La Cruz.

“Texas has problems creating an educated workforce,” De La Cruz said. “It’s not going to be a winning strategy to increase tuition while cutting funding for students.”

Printed on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 as: Cost of college forces some students out of University