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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Opinion

Fixed tuition rates fix nothing for UH


tuition

David Delgado // The Daily Cougar

The approval of fixed tuition rates will affect incoming freshmen in the 2014-15 school year.

The proposal offers the option of an unchanging, fixed tuition rate for incoming freshmen who enroll in at least 12 consecutive semesters, according to the Texas Legislature House Bill No. 29. However, there are strings attached.

Students who opt in must complete a minimum of 30 hours per year and must graduate within four years.

The Daily Cougar previously reported on an SGA meeting during which Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance Carl Carlucci said, “Not everyone is going to be able to do this, we know that; but you have to offer an incentive to people, and (fixed tuition) is an incentive.

“It says that if you are able to make the sacrifice and graduate, you can essentially get a very, very cheap degree.”

It seems like people are constantly forgetting that UH isn’t Rice, Harvard or Yale. We are a proud college full of working-class people who often have jobs, families and low income.

Those who opt in might have a higher rate in the beginning because they aren’t getting the rate that is present at the time of their acceptance to the University; they are opting into a calculated or estimated average rate. Then the rate goes up for recommendation every two years.

For quite a few colleges forced into offering fixed tuition, the prices for those who opt in are high during the first two years to offset the price of the last two years, so there’s really no discount there.

The House Bill requires that “general academic teaching institutions” provide fixed-tuition rates to students.

That’s great, and we’re doing that, but let’s have UH go above and beyond.

Instead of just fixed tuition for incoming freshmen, let’s offer frozen tuition. This would stop the rise in tuition costs for a set period of time for the entire student body instead of just freshmen.

Another option is offering fixed tuition for everyone to opt into. This would give the “incentive” that Carlucci describes to everyone, instead of just freshmen. Maybe even more students would hurry up and graduate. Or perhaps we could try both.

For students who can’t graduate in four years, UH could offer frozen tuition for two years at a time, providing financial security for the education-seeking working class, even if it is for a relatively short time.

Fixed tuition would then be the best option for students searching for a more intense course load.

But maybe frozen tuition, for the time being, is the best option. It affects everyone, not just freshmen, and provides financial security so that students, working and non-working alike, can plan ahead.

It won’t help the University save money — giving a frozen-tuition option to students or giving fixed tuition to everyone — but it’s what a lot of students need.

Davis and Elkins College announced in January that it will offer frozen tuition to its returning students and guarantee that the rates will stay the same for four years for incoming freshman this fall.

So yes, the freshmen get a nice deal like ours, but returning students are getting frozen tuition, too. I can think of quite a few students at UH who would like the sound of frozen tuition in their budget books.

With a sister getting ready for college this fall, I can be grateful colleges like UH are now offering fixed tuition to freshmen, but like any good American, I wish upon every star I see that I can afford the next semester and not have to visit a crossroads at midnight on a full moon and strike a deal just to get my BA.

So my next wish will be … can I have affordable tuition, too?

Opinion columnist Rachel Lee is an English sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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