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This bill, if enacted, would tie the control of tuition rates to performance based standards at universities. These standards would be based on an eleven point criteria that includes: the total number of undergraduate degrees awarded; the total number of undergraduate degrees awarded by the college, adjusted by the college's six year graduation rate; the total number of undergraduate degrees awarded by the institution per 100 full time student equivalents; the total number of undergraduate degrees awarded to at risk students; total number of undergraduate students who have completed 25, 50, and 75 percent of their 120 hour degree requirements; the average length of a student's enrollment; the four and six year graduation rates of first time, full time students; and administration costs.
The bill would also temporarily freeze the tuition rates so as not to be increased by more than the inflation rate established by the Legislative Budget Board plus one percent. The coordinating board will set the rules for every university and those that cannot meet certain standards, will not be able to raise tuition on students.
Finally the bill would also impose a freeze on fee increases, keeping fees for the 2018-2020 academic years at their current 2016-2017 levels.
According to the Legislative Budget Board, when you adjust for inflation, tuition rates and fees have increased by a substantial 67% since 2003. Public institutions of higher education should focus more on classroom education and less on other extracurricular things that cause tuition to skyrocket. By freezing tuition rates this bill supports limited government. We support SB 19.
It is worth noting that higher education institutions are likely to request higher appropriations in the future to make up for the inability to increase tuition rates. Perhaps it would be helpful to amend the bill to strictly prohibit institutions from using this legislation as an excuse to ask for an increase in appropriations and promote better financial management of the institutions to reduce administrative costs.