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Texas Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D) has proposed a bill to place a two year moratorium on university tuition hikes. Tuition rates are set by the regents of the state’s public university system, but if the new bill becomes law, there would be stricter regulations for how much and how often universities can increase tuition costs.

A press release announcing the proposal said, “The bill also puts a cap on the amount a university can charge for tuition based on the Consumer Price Index, an inflation tracker. Following the two-year freeze, university regents could increase tuition rates only once a year.”

The release cited that tuition at public four year universities has increased by 53 percent since 2003.

The bill also freezes additional fees that can increase tuition. It allows only those fees approved by the majority of student voters “unless the fees are required or allowed by statute.”

The votes for increased fees would be similar to the vote in Fall 2007 that asked UTSA students to support a tuition increase for a future football team.

In the press release, Senator Hinojosa said he believes the current tuition rate-setting scheme fails Texas’ college hopefuls.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with the current system,” Hinojosa said. “We tell high school students that hard work earns them passage to a public university in Texas.

“Once these graduates meet that standard, they are priced out of the very opportunity that motivated them in the first place. The ‘work hard and get ahead’ story has become a false promise for Texas high school seniors.”

Senior English major Adam Coronado agrees that some students are being “priced out” because of tuition hikes. Coronado had to apply for a signature loan from his bank this summer because he was not receiving any financial aid for the summer.

Although he was working three jobs, he was not making enough to pay the bills. He thinks UTSA is expanding too quickly and charging too much for tuition.

“I’m happy that the university is expanding because it deserves to be taken seriously on the national front,” Coronado said.

But, the school is growing too fast. Tuition is not only increasing rapidly, but nontraditional students, once the foundation of this university, are being pushed out. I worry that Mr. Romo is casting out the people who have built this school in favor of a more ‘fortunate’ demographic.”

Sophomore civil engineering major William Frees feels that the two-year moratorium would be positive for students struggling to pay high tuition fees.

“It’s hard for a lot of people to pay tuition. I think the moratorium is a good idea.” Frees said

Junior mathematics major Oscar Gaytan agrees.

“Having two years notice for tuition hikes is a good idea. It wouldn’t affect the university because they would eventually get the money. It’s better for the university students,” Gaytan said.

However, Gaytan did not agree that decisions concerning fees associated with tuition should be left to the student body.

“The student population should not make the decisions concerning tuition hikes” Gaytan said. “Elected student representatives from a student committee should be informed and make those decisions. Putting education first is most important.”

Junior kinesiology major Vijo Zacharia disagrees. He thinks that placing decisions about fees in the hands of the students who pay the fees is a good idea.

“Students should have a say if tuition rates should go higher or lower,” he said.

As Hinojosa’s bill travels through the process of becoming law, the public will have the opportunity to present their views to house committees or subcommittees.

Hinojisa said that he would like everyone to have the opportunity to attend a four year university.

“This is not a political issue. It is simply an issue of accessibility. State universities supported by the Texas taxpayer should be affordable for the children of working-class families,” Hinojosa said. “An investment in their education is an investment in Texas’ future. The tuition deregulation policy is making the dream of a college education only that; a dream.”

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