Tuition and Fee Increases Since 1970

UT Tower $$$ credit: Sasha Haagensen

Since 1970 tuition and fees at UT have risen tremendously; for undergraduates, the increase has been around 400 percent. In 1970, tuition was $50 for any in-state student enrolled in any college or school for any number of credit hours. Fees were $54 for anyone enrolled at the University. In the Fall semester of 2002, you won't get a twelve hour course load for less than $2,300.

Since 1985, when administrators first increased tuition by $140 per semester, the cost of attending the University has skyrocketed. At that time, students were outraged by what now seems a small increase; 2,000 of us marched to the Capitol building in protest. Through the years, students have expressed everything from guarded skepticism to vehement opposition each time a new increase has been pushed through. Unfortunately, the people hurt most by this trend are increasingly unable to resist as students. Those from lower income brackets cannot afford to pay the large amount of money the university now charges and are not here to defend the ideal or the fast-disappearing reality of affordable higher education.

According to the College Board, between the years 1989-1994, the graduation rate for college attendees from the highest income quartile was 41%; among the lowest income quartile the 5-year graduation rate dropped to a stunning 6%. The disparity will surely increase in line with tuition and fee increases. And now, with tuition deregulated, we will see an even steeper rise in the cost of attending the University. College should not be solely for those who can afford it - it should be an option for all those who are qualified and want to attend.

But aren't these increases in line with inflation?

No. In the second graph of our study on UT tuition, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the standard measure for inflation, is factored into the tuition and fee increases since 1970. The graph demonstrates that even after adjusting for inflation, education at the University has become more expensive each year. The fourth graph shows the astounding increase in the overall amount the University has received from tuition and fees, taking inflation into account.

Isn't this happening everywhere?

Yes and no. While the cost of attending institutes of higher learning has increased across the nation in the past 20 years, UT has outpaced other schools. It is now more expensive than the University of California at Berkeley, a state school of roughly the same size with more prestige and name recognition than UT. For in-state students attending college in the 2002 fall semester, it costs $2,100.45 to attend Berkeley but the chart below shows that in the School of Social Work, possibly the least expensive college, students pay $2,309.83 for tuition and fees.

Part of the reason the increases are so shocking is because UT was very cheap for a long time. UT was able to provide an affordable education for so long because it received sufficient state funds and had a large endowment subsidizing it. State funding has not kept pace with that of other states, like California.

Where's the closest ATM?

There are 17 UFCU (University Financial Credit Union) ATM's being constructed around campus. Students are pulling their money out at unthinkable rates, right around the time bills are sent to them. Hook 'em.

So what does all of this mean?

College is being geared toward those who can pay for it instead of those who are qualified and motivated to get an education. The College Board reports that those with a college degree make nearly twice as much on average, as those without a college degree, and over twice that of a high-school dropout. The lifetime earnings for an individual who graduates from college are over a million dollars greater than for those of a non-degreed person.

This differential, combined with an increasingly expensive public system of higher education creates a wall between the wealthy and middle-class citizens of America, and the poor. Many staff workers at UT are stuck on the other side of this wall. Their pay may or may not increase in accord with inflation, they are worked harder and harder, and they are ignored by the administration when they bring their concerns to the table. Many cannot live off of one paycheck, so they are forced into second, or even third jobs. This is the situation of millions of Americans, and countless more will left out of higher educations self-sustaining cycle unless students fight for affordable education.

Where's the good news?

Students have fought tuition and fee increases since the 1980s, and will continue to do so. As of yet, they seem to have fought a losing battle, but the struggle is not over. As students cycle through the University, the administration counts on their apathy and indolence, as well as the collective amnesia that occurs every 4 years. The following study, also available in hard copy, was prepared by and for students, in order that we might all be better prepared to resist the alarming trend of higher tuition and fees at UT.

The information on this website about UTIMCO, the Board of Regents, and tuition deregulation helps contextualize UT finances. In the end, the money is there, the political connections are there, and UT's state funding is languishing only because it has been allowed to do so by the regents and the administration. As students, we should work to maintain this as a public university, because if we don't, the pro-privatization regents, and an administration that is spineless at best, surely won't.

View the official Tuition and Fees Report(pdf). It documents the rising cost of an education with the correlation of a declining number of attendees in low- and middle-income quartiles. The raw data was derived from Course Catalogues and General Information Bulletins since 1970. The information was compiled into a tuition data(pdf) file.

Bevo Bucks the Students


Faculty Productivity and Costs at The University of Texas at Austin(pdf) (May 2011)

From the executive summary:

Recently released preliminary data from the University of Texas strongly suggest that the state of Texas could move towards making college more affordable by moderately increasing faculty emphasis on teaching. Looking only at the UT Austin campus, if the 80 percent of the faculty with the lowest teaching loads were to teach just half as much as the 20 percent with the highest loads, and if the savings were dedicated to tuition reduction, tuition could be cut by more than half (or, alternatively, state appropriations could be reduced even more—by as much as 75 percent). Moreover, other data suggest a strategy of reemphasizing the importance of the undergraduate teaching function can be done without importantly reducing outside research funding or productivity.