Deregulation Sends Tuition Costs Soaring, Financial Options Still Available - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/24/06

Deregulation Sends Tuition Costs Soaring, Financial Options Still Available

It's something almost every parent thinks about for 18 years - sending your kids to college. That's a valid concern since tuition has consistently gone up since state lawmakers began allowing Texas universities to set their own tuition rates in 2002-2003.

A new study compares tuition at state colleges and universities before deregulation and now. Texas Tech is now the third most expensive school in the state. Tuition is just over $6,400 for the entire year behind only the University of Texas at Austin and UT Dallas. Texas A&M is now just over $6,200.

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Texas Universities' Tuition and Fee Increases Since 2002-2003
Here is a list comparing average tuition and fees for students taking 15 credit hours a semester at Texas' public universities in 2002-03 and in 2005-06. The 2002-03 figures have been adjusted for inflation to 2006 dollars.

Tech experienced a 48% increase, the University of Houston experienced the highest percentage and Texas Southern had the second highest. UT had an 18% increase and Texas A&M experienced a 14% tuition hike.

After all this, you may ask yourself, "how can I afford college?" NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire went in search of answers and found financial aid is available, but you must seek it out.

Setting foot on any college campus is quite an accomplishment, however paying for it can be another challenge.

Esmeralda Benitez has been the Educational Talent Search Assistant Director at Learn Inc. for 14 years, the organization helps students complete the financial aid process. She says because of the constant rise of tuition scholarships are available, but loans are inevitable. "The realities of it are that the cost of education has skyrocketed so much that a loan just may have to be a part of your package," Benitez explained.

First you have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Based on your family income the FAFSA determines which federal, state and institutional grants and loans you qualify for. Many people skip the FAFSA because they don't think they're eligible for any funds, however Benitez says that can be a huge mistake.

"Many times financial aid offices find extra moneys and they need to award that. If they have students who don't have their federal FAFSA on file, you're going to disqualify yourself for that."

You can fill out and submit your FAFSA online, but Benitez warns you should never have to pay for it. She says some websites will try to charge you, for instance fafsa.org is free, but fafsa.com charges you.

The national average for tuition and fees is $5,500, a 25% increase from three years ago. Because of the rising cost, Benitez says 73% of funding for students nationwide now comes from loans. She says it's most frustrating when talented students skip out on college because it's too expensive.

"It's just frustrating to see so many talented students that sometimes cannot go through the post secondary phase of what should be there for them," said Benitez.

Contact a Texas Lawmaker
Feel the need to contact an area lawmaker? Here are the address, phone numbers and e-mail address to send them your input.

No one at Texas Tech was available to comment on tuition, however in past interviews they've told us the tuition increases help cover scholarship programs and faculty pay. They say the constant increases are because of state budget cuts.

Learn also suggests students seek out and apply for all the scholarships they can. For more information, call their office at (806) 763-4263 or go to (fafsa.org) or (FederalStudentaid.ed.gov) or call 1-800-4-FED-AID.

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