Although the governor and a gubernatorial candidate endorse a four-year fixed-rate tuition program, the plan is not in the best interest of the university or its students.
According to an Oct. 9 University Star article, the board of regents will vote on a proposal to give students an option to maintain a fixed tuition price over the course of their four years at Texas State. From freshman to senior year, students could have the ability to budget for a consistent tuition cost. Supporters of the plan say financial predictability is the main attraction of this tuition option for students and their families.
The fixed-rate tuition will be adjusted for inflation over the four years of the student’s college career, according to the same Oct. 9 article. This means a student who opted into the fixed-rate tuition choice would pay the price of predicted inflation and price hikes in utilities and services.
The fixed-rate tuition plan is unfavorable for students because the tuition estimation could be more than the actual price increases over the next four years, causing them to overpay. Alternatively, this could harm the university if the costs for inflation and services are underestimated. In the current U.S. economy, it is virtually impossible to accurately predict a consistent price for tuition over a four-year span.
In an Oct. 16, 2012 University Star article, Provost Eugene Bourgeois said implementing a four-year tuition plan at Texas State would require guaranteed funds from the state over a the same period of time. As seen in recent years, cuts in state funding cannot be ruled out. University officials cannot depend on stable and steady funding from the state.
Students who do not finish school within four years could suffer a hike in prices during their fifth year and beyond if on the four-year fixed-rate tuition plan, according to the Oct. 16 article. This could cause students to transfer to another school or even drop out if the rise in prices was dramatic enough. Graduation and retention rates are, and rightfully should be, important to Texas State administrators. Implementing the plan could have numerous negative effects on students, even though the program would be optional.
The program could also affect financial aid if it were enacted, according to the Oct. 9 article. Students who qualify for financial aid and opt into the program would still receive enough to cover their tuition costs. While that scenario is beneficial for students who opt into the program, it takes up more of the financial aid funds allotted for the university. Fewer students could end up receiving aid depending on the total number using the fixed-rate program.
While the idea for fixed four-year tuition is a good start in finding solutions to relieving ever-increasing student debt in the state, it is not a good option for the university or its students.