A UT student was the inspiration behind a bill filed Thursday that would limit the amount a public institution of higher education could charge for an official transcript to $10.
Juliette Perrier, an intern for State Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, said House Bill 2307 was inspired after talking with her classmates about the University raising the cost of an official transcript to $20 last fall.
“The motivation behind it was really with all the money that students are already paying for college, is there any way to lessen it, especially in areas where it doesn’t really require $15 or $20 to get a transcript,” Perrier said.
Perrier said she filed this bill as a part of a program in Guillen’s office that encourages the interns to submit bill proposals.
“I was shocked to learn that the days of 10 cent copies are long gone. I’m told they now go for 20 bucks at UT,” Guillen said. “So all we are doing here is trying to hold the line at 10 and I say a modest 10,000 percent increase or so should suffice.”
Shelby Stanfield, UT registrar and vice provost, said the increase in the cost of transcripts was the first since 2001 and aimed to cover the rising operating costs associated with the office’s services. Stanfield said the additional fee helps maintain the security and accuracy of the document as well as the cost of printing the transcript, the security paper and staffing the office. Stanfield said the passage of HB 2307 would hurt his office.
“It would negatively impact our ability to deliver the level of service that we feel students are warranted,” Stanfield said. “We tried to wait as long as we can without compromising our ability to provide those services to our students, but after 15 years our operating costs have just increased to the point we did have to take some measures in order to cover those
Student Body President Kevin Helgren said a survey sent out last semester showed two groups of students were disproportionately affected by the increase: those from low socioeconomic backgrounds and students ordering transcripts in bulk. As a result, Student Government, Senate of College Councils and the Office of the Registrar worked together to reduce transcript costs to $10 for Pell Grant recipients as well as for students ordering five or more at once.
“Hopefully (the price changes) help to ease some of the financial burden that comes with being a student who’s trying to get themselves through college and for students who are pursuing professional degrees after undergrad,” Helgren said. “Higher education in general is already fairly inaccessible for a lot of groups and we’re not doing students any favors by adding one more institutional barrier to them either completing their education or pursuing future education.”
The Blake Burley-Robert Guerra SG campaign wants to provide free transcripts for all students. Burley said in an email this goal has attracted interest to their campaign since many students are on financial aid and request multiple transcripts at once for graduate school or job applications.
“Many of us cannot afford to pay these fees. Nobody should have to choose transcripts over groceries,” said Burley, a philosophy and government junior.
If passed, HB 2307 wouldn’t allow institutions of higher education to charge more than $10 for an official transcript. The University of Houston currently charges $12.50 per transcript, Texas A&M University charges $10 and Texas Tech University and Texas State University charge $5.00.
Currently, no action has been taken on HB 2307. Perrier said she is excited about her bill and would love to see it debated in committee to find out if other people across the state share her idea.