Texas Senate explores regulating tuition

Texas universities may have new hurdles to jump before receiving state funding.

State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) recently filed a bill to regulate public university funding by making colleges earn money through meeting certain performance criteria.

According to the Houston Chronicle, schools may be measured in their “four- and six-year graduation rates, first-to-second year persistence rates, [the number of] first-generation college graduates, and [the] percent of lower division semester credit hours taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty members.”

Over the last decade of allowing colleges to set their own tuition rates, the cost of attending public Texas universities has more than doubled.

"This bill ensures that tuition increases are justified by progress and production in rigorous standards and I expect universities to perform in exceptional fashion," Seliger said in a statement. "Performance Based Tuition reflects the diversity in missions at our colleges and universities."

UT system Chancellor William McRaven believes tuition policy should remain under the control of a board of regents.

“I do think we need to continue to have tuition deregulated,” McRaven said in an interview with the Texas Tribune. “We need to be smart and thoughtful about how we have tuition increases.”

McRaven expressed concern about a declining quality of education should the bill pass.

“If you want to make college so affordable that the quality of education comes down, then I don’t think that affordability is worth a return on your investment,” McRaven told the Texas Tribune.

The Houston Chronicle reports that tuition costs in Texas remained below the national average by approximately $1,000 in 2013.

Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) has filed a bill to require legislative approval for any tuition hikes, and Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Central Texas) submitted a bill earlier during the legislative session to allow tuition increases only in pace with inflation.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BethanySalgado