At The University of Texas at Austin, we aspire to be the best public university in America. It is a goal that is within our reach. We won’t achieve it this year or next, but every day on the campus we try to take the next step on that demanding journey. I can assure you that we have the students and faculty to compete with the best. There are, however, considerable challenges.
With this message, I begin a series of communications to keep you informed about our efforts to realize the enormous potential of the University and to overcome the obstacles to our success. We not only want to keep you informed, but we also need your help. These communications will deal with important public policy, including some legislative matters. I do not write to influence the outcome of any legislation. By law, I cannot do that. But I want you to have relevant information about these issues and how they influence the University so you can make your own judgments. In the months ahead, I’ll be discussing tuition, higher education funding, the top 10 percent law, and other topics.
Rising tuition has been a frequent topic in the news media. Most people don’t realize that the annual rate of increase of tuition and fees here at the University has actually gone down since deregulation in 2003. That’s because many past cost increases for students came in the form of fees, which were not regulated or even noticed. We’re more transparent now, and that’s good. When tuition and fees are calculated, the annual increase in the total cost of education at the University from 1990-2003 was 13.6%–compared to 10.5% from 2003-2007. With our current proposal, the increase from 2003-2009 would be 8.7%. And low-income students have been spared all or part of those increases since 2003, depending on their family’s income level.
In spite of tuition increases, the University remains a bargain. Earlier this month Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine named us the 24th best value among the more than 500 public universities it evaluated.
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I want to thank you for all you do on behalf of The University of Texas at Austin. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted and tell you how you can help us become the nation’s best public university.