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Seal of the Senate of the State of Texas
Welcome to the official website for the
Texas Senate
Senator Charles Schwertner: District 5
News Release
November 21, 2016
Contact: Tom Holloway
(512) 923-5944
Schwertner Reintroduces Plan to Freeze Tuition and Fees at Texas Public Universities
As costs continue to climb, Schwertner files the Higher Education Accountability Restoration (HEAR) Act to keep college education affordable for middle-class Texans

AUSTIN, TX — Today, Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) reintroduced legislation to make higher education more affordable for middle-class Texans by controlling cost growth at public universities in Texas. Senate Bill 250 would cap tuition and fees at their current levels and limit any future increases to no more than the rate of inflation.

"Attending one of our world-class public universities shouldn't be a luxury afforded only to the wealthy or those willing to mortgage their futures through massive student loan debt," said Schwertner. "The rising cost of higher education represents a hidden tax on tens of thousands of middle-class families. If we fail to address this problem now, we risk driving an entire generation of Texans from the halls of our public universities."

In 2003, the Texas Legislature surrendered its ability to approve tuition increases at public universities, instead allowing Boards of Regents to set tuition rates free from legislative oversight. Since that time, tuition and fees at Texas public universities have more than doubled and designated tuition (the portion of tuition set directly by the universities) has increased an astounding 256%. These dramatic increases have far outpaced the 29% inflationary growth over the same timeframe.

"Texas needs an educated workforce with the skills to compete in the modern economy," continued Schwertner. "Unfortunately, we now see the cost of higher education growing more rapidly than healthcare, housing, or almost anything else. As a legislature, I think it's time to ask some tough questions and decide whether or not it's acceptable for our students to pay twice as much for an undergraduate education as they did a decade ago."

Senate Bill 250, also known as the Higher Education Accountability Restoration (HEAR) Act, would require public universities to seek legislative approval for tuition or fee increases that exceed the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Schwertner hopes the legislation will force universities to be more accountable for controlling costs, justify new spending priorities, return a measure of oversight to the legislature, and give average Texans a voice in the tuition-setting process.

"Prioritizing spending and living within a budget isn't necessarily easy, but most people don't have the option of simply demanding more money year after year," continued Schwertner. "The State of Texas has to live within its means just like Texas families do…I really don't think it's unreasonable to ask our state universities to do the same."

In 2015, Schwertner filed a nearly identical proposal, known as Senate Bill 233. As part of that effort, Schwertner launched -- a website that invites visitors to sign a petition in support of the legislation and share their story about how rising tuition costs have affected their lives. Schwertner also authored two separate editorials (attached) examining the long-term impact of escalating college tuition and student debt.

Despite strong support from fellow legislators and student groups like the Young Conservatives of Texas, SB 233 faced substantial opposition from public universities and was never called for a vote in the Senate Committee on Higher Education.

A medical doctor by training, Dr. Schwertner currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. Schwertner is currently serving his second term as the senator for Senate District 5, a ten-county region of central and east Texas.