The Texas House of Representatives tentatively approved a bill Wednesday requiring universities to offer students the option of a four-year fixed tuition plan in a move similar to one taken by the UT System Board of Regents earlier this year.
Lawmakers and administrators, including Gov. Rick Perry and President William Powers Jr., have supported the plan before the current legislative session as a method to increase four-year graduation rates and control costs for students and their families.
Regents preempted legislative action on providing fixed tuition over four years in February by voting to direct all system institutions to offer a four year fixed-rate tuition plan to incoming freshmen beginning fall 2014.
UT-Dallas and UT-El Paso are the only universities in the system that offer fixed-rate tuition over four years. UT-Dallas has among the highest tuition among public universities in the state.
The bill, authored by state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, and House Higher Education Committee chairman, must come up for a third reading in the House for a final vote. If the bill is approved, it will likely move to the Senate Committee on Higher Education before coming before the full Senate.
Michael Morton, former Senate of College Councils president, served on the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee and said the University could possibly set a higher rate for students who enroll in the plan to recoup possible lost revenue that would normally be gained from tuition increases.
“[Students who enroll in the plan] are probably going to pay more initially because they’re taking a gamble in thinking that their tuition may increase if they don’t participate in the plan,” Morton said.