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UT System Approves Four-Year Tuition Guarantee Plan

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

The nine academic campuses in the University of Texas System will soon offer four-year guaranteed tuition plans as an option to their students.

At a Thursday meeting, the system's board of regents approved a measure requiring campuses to have the option in place.

The University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Texas at El Paso already have plans that allow students to pay the same tuition rate for four years, and the two schools have had very different experiences.

Such guaranteed tuition plans often begin with a price that is relatively higher than other plans during the first years of higher education to make up for a lack of increases down the line.

UT-Dallas, where a fixed rate is the norm, has the highest tuition in the state for incoming first-year students. It also has higher graduation rates than most public universities in Texas.

At UTEP, the current guaranteed tuition plan is optional. It's also not very popular among students, who tend to prefer to pay as they go, starting at a lower price and risking possible increases.

Proponents of guaranteed tuition, who include Gov. Rick Perry, tout the predictability it provides students. House Higher Education Committee Chairman Dan Branch, R-Dallas, hasfileda bill that would require all public universities to offer such plans.

In a statement, Gene Powell, the chairman of UT's board of regents, said, "College access and affordability are critically important issues and we want to provide a fixed tuition option in order to create a smoother financial road to a college degree for Texas students."

Reeve Hamilton has interned at The Nation and The Texas Observer, for which he covered the 2009 legislative session. Most recently, he was a desk assistant at The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. A Houston native, he has a bachelor's degree in English from Vanderbilt University.
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