Universities will not have free reign on setting tuition

By Michele Kay
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

State universities will not be given the freedom to set tuition as lawmakers had promised.

Legislators earlier this year had suggested giving universities more flexibility in setting their undergraduate tuition to offset cuts of much as $1 billion in state funding in the next two-year budget.

The Texas House had weakened the proposal by giving universities flexibility for one year only and in exchange suggested higher state-set tuition.

On Tuesday, a Senate panel agreed to tuition increases for the next two years and called for a study of deregulation.

The amount tuition could be increased was left pending until budget writers complete their work. But lawmakers could allow universities to increase tuition by as much as $23 a credit hour each year for the next two years. That could take tuition at the University of Texas-Austin from $88 an hour to $134 a credit hour in 2005.

University of Texas at Austin President Larry Faulkner said he was not surprised deregulation has been shelved. He said tuition hikes would help UT manage through the next two years, but added that deregulation remained the best option.

mkay@statesman.com; 445-3635