Gov. Rick Perry outlined his initiatives for the upcoming legislative session to improve accessibility, accountability and affordability in higher education. The governor called for a four year tuition freeze, outcomes-based funding for institutions and increased fiscal transparency for students and families. He also renewed his challenge for institutions to create more affordable $10,000 bachelor’s degree options.
“More and more young Texans of all backgrounds are thinking of college as a vital component of their personal success and they’re taking active steps to get themselves there,” Gov. Perry said. “Implementing these measures will meet the growing demand for higher education in a way that provides encouragement for students to complete their degree in a timely fashion and with financial certainty.”
Ensuring students complete their degrees in a timely manner is critical to controlling costs, both for families and institutions. In addition to providing an incentive for students to graduate on time, the governor’s call for a four-year tuition freeze at the rate a student pays his or her freshman year gives families predictability as they plan for the cost of higher education.
“While striving to enhance excellence, we need to offer multiple options to Texas students, families and taxpayers to rein in college costs,” House Higher Education Committee Chairman Dan Branch said.
Along these lines, Gov. Perry has proposed outcomes-based funding for institutions, tying 10 percent of an institution’s state funding to the number of students it graduates. Currently less than 30 percent of students at four-year institutions graduate in four years, with only 58 percent graduating in six. Additionally, the governor has called for more cost transparency so students and families know the full financial cost of delayed graduation.
In 2011, Gov. Perry challenged institutions of higher education to find efficiencies in the way they teach students, including offering bachelor’s degrees for $10,000 or less, including books. So far, nine institutions have announced or implemented a $10,000 degree:
•The University of Texas at Arlington, Tarrant County College System and Mansfield School District
•The University of Texas at Permian Basin
•The University of Texas at Brownsville
•Tarleton State University
•Texas A&M University – Commerce and South Texas College
•Texas A&M International University
•Texas A&M University – San Antonio and Alamo Colleges
•Texas A&M University – Texarkana
•Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College and Southwest Texas Junior College