As the 84th Texas legislative session begins on January 13th, 2015, the representatives must face the challenges incurred by debt-ridden post grads throughout the state. State Senator Rodney D. Ellis (D-Houston) and State Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Central Texas) will each sponsor two separate bills aimed at addressing the sky-rocketing tuition increases at state and private institutions throughout Texas.
In 2003, the state legislature voted to allow Texas universities to set their own tuition. Since then, tuition rates have more than doubled, surpassing the rate of inflation nationally. For example, tuition at the University of Houston has risen by 130% since 2003 when it cost $2,266. By 2013, UH’s tuition had risen to $5,223. The University of Texas at Austin saw tuition rise by 80% since 2003, jumping from $2,227 to $4,899 in 2013.
The dramatic increase in students graduating from four-year universities with over $20,000 in student loan debt is troubling for many reasons. Many critics, including Sen. Ellis, argue that the tuition increase could price many families out of a “world-class” education at a Texas university. A report published by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs showed that student loan debt balance grew by 61 percent between 2004 and 2012.
By not addressing the rising cost of tution, Texas could potentially put its status as an economic powerhouse in jeapordy by accumulating a large population of debt-ridden post graduates. As many recent graduates know, the real world starts with the first student loan payment.