Two Texas bills were introduced in the Senate this week, one proposing a freeze in university tuition for four years, while the other seeks the end of tuition assistance for low-income students, according to the Texas Senate.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick fully supports the bill, which was introduced to the senate this week by Senator Kel Seliger, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

One of the bills addresses a current state law that makes colleges to budget a portion of tuition from public universities towards scholarships for low-income students. But Patrick pointed out that the tuition assistance program actually means other students are paying more for their education to make up for the money colleges need to “set aside.” Instead, Patrick wants the state to fund those scholarships.

High tuition and an increase in student loan debt have been important topics for Patrick. During a press conference last April, he called universities to task for raising tuition in recent years, with tuition and fees increasing by 148 percent. But universities argue that they’ve been forced to raise tuition and fees because state funding for students has decreased over the years.

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Patrick has made it clear that making college more affordable for all Texans is one of his top priorities this year.

While both parties agree that making higher education more affordable is a top priority, Democrats are expected to have issues with the elimination of set-asides. Still, both bills are expected to pass through the Senate before making their way through the House.

Seliger also filed a third bill this week which would require schools to meet certain standards, such as achieving acceptable graduation rates, before they can raise tuition. He introduced similar legislation in 2015, but it never made it through the House.

 

image copyright Paul Smith