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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Junior G Wade Taylor IV (4) covers his face after a missed point during Texas A&Ms game against Arkansas on Feb. 20, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
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Ali Camarillo (2) waiting to see if he got the out during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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A&M welcomes new journalism professors from CNN, Dallas Morning News
A&M welcomes new journalism professors from CNN, Dallas Morning News
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) hits a home run during Texas A&M’s game against The United States Air Force Academy on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Members of the 2023-2024 Aggie Muster Committee pose outside the Jack K. Williams Administration Building. (Photo courtesy of Aggie Muster Committee)
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(Graphic by Ethan Mattson/The Battalion)
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Deregulation debated

At the March 14 deadline for filing bills, state legislators rushed to propose their versions of tuition deregulation, which would give a university’s board of regents more authority in setting tuition rates.
Public university officials, including Texas A&M University System Chancellor Howard D. Graves, have been lobbying for deregulation and say tuition must be hiked to cover expected cuts in state funding.
Graves and chancellors from the other five public university systems in Texas, including the University of Texas, the University of North Texas, Texas Tech University, the Texas State University and the University of Houston systems, met March 12 with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano.
The chancellors agreed that “flexibility in pricing tuition” would be the best solution to cuts in state funding. The language surrounding the issue has shifted since it first came to the legislature’s attention in January. Legislators are now focusing on tuition flexibility” along with “tuition deregulation,” said Bob Wright, spokesman for the A&M System.
Graves is still evaluating the deregulation bills, Wright said.
“Initially, we are leaning toward Sen. Shapiro’s bill,” he said.
Shapiro is the chairwoman of the Senate education committee. Her bill, Senate Bill 1542, grants the boards of regents the right to raise the tuition “an amount not to exceed three times” the amount now charged at all state institutions.
“(Shapiro’s bill) doesn’t do away with state funding,” Wright said.
The primary responsibility to appropriate funds for public university systems such as A&M falls on the state legislature, Wright said. Those funds include current and future financial needs.
“When the state is unable to meet those needs, we will be in favor of some tuition flexibility,” Wright said.
Graves spent several days in Austin the past two weeks answering legislators’ questions.
A&M officials will try to minimize the financial impact on students, Wright said, and would be careful in using their new tuition-setting authority.
“In general, we don’t want to put the burden on parents and students,” he said. “We would use it as a last resort.”
Rep. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, submitted House Bill 3064, which authorizes the board of regents of each university system to set their own tuition without any interference from the state legislature. In his legislation, there is no limit on the amount of tuition each governing board may charge, although there is a minimum amount set.
Brown serves on the House higher education committee and as the higher education financial adviser on the appropriations committee.
State Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, chairwoman of the House higher education committee, authored House Bill 3015, which would transfer tuition-setting power to the boards of regents of each system, but sets a cap on the combined amount of tuition and fees at 5 percent of a family’s gross income.
The Daily Texan reported March 17 that several student groups at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin have reacted negatively to the new bills and are working to form a coalition among several campus groups.
Darren Pierson, the president of A&M’s Graduate Student Council, said he has been contacted by Katie King, president of student government at UT, but said he has not yet had the opportunity to review all of the new bills in depth and establish a position for the group.
Kevin Capps, a student senator and senior political science major, said an open forum where students will be able to voice their opinions on tuition deregulation is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“We would like the state give us the money, but if deregulation is necessary, we would like to see it with limitations attached,” Capps said.
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