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Legislative Issues in Texas: Student Debt

Student debt is one of the most concerning issues for the younger demographic of American voters. The issue can primarily be attributed to the extremely high tuition in most educational establishments. Some students may find themselves in a desperate situation after graduating when their income is barely enough to make regular payments. In these conditions, many have begun questioning the 2003 law that allowed Texas colleges to set their tuition and fees. However, the infamous tuition deregulation did not have a strictly negative effect on the cost of education. To the untrained eye, the often quoted numbers regarding the overall increase of tuition may indicate that the removal of the upper price limit caused the prices to grow more quickly. Nonetheless, detailed statistics show a radically different picture. Official data states that tuition has been growing at a higher rate “at only nine of the state’s 38 public institutions”, which still have below-average pricing (McCrimmon and Blanchard). In conclusion, the economic effect of the deregulation of tuition in the state of Texas was not as drastic as it is often portrayed.

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Even though the deregulation of tuition did not cause a significant change in the increasing prices of education, it remains a controversial topic. One of the reasons for the strong and long-lasting public opposition to this law might be the utter lack of justification for its passing. One could argue that allowing universities to set their tuition is an essential component of the free market economy, similar to private healthcare and other essential services. However, an entirely free market is not a sustainable system, as it tends to become imbalanced and drive people into poverty. A more reasonable argument could be that the deregulation of tuition allows colleges to maintain the highest standards of quality of education. However, it is more likely that educational establishments would choose to increase their profits instead, as continuously investing in their service would quickly begin to yield substantially decreased returns. It appears that the falling value proposition of higher education might be a more accurate description of the problem that students are opposed to.

State funding for higher education is another issue adjacent to tuition deregulation. While the cost of education, housing, and transportation have been steadily rising, the amount of funds available to help students afford higher education has been decreasing. In modern America, a college degree is a key component in starting a successful career in most fields, opening the holder to a range of higher-paying job opportunities. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people without significant savings to pay for their education even after they graduate.

Although the state itself seems to be unable to help those who cannot afford to pay for education, some establishments are attempting to help low-income students. Several universities now offer free tuition to students from households that do not meet their minimum income threshold. While this is a phenomenal opportunity for financially disadvantaged youth to boost their future career, the problem of crippling student debt remains a pressing issue for the majority of Texan graduates. If the state does not change its budgeting priorities and offer more substantial financial support for students, the demand for higher education may fall, as people cease to find it worthwhile.

Works Cited

McCrimmon, Ryan, and Bobby Blanchard. “Deregulating Tuition Slowed Increase, Universities Say.” The Texas Tribune, 2015. Web.

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