Tuition Policy Advisory Committee Recommends 3.95 Percent Tuition Increase to Avoid Budget Cuts

Dec. 1, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — The Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) at The University of Texas at Austin has recommended to President William Powers Jr. a tuition increase of 3.95 percent per year for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years for all undergraduate and graduate student programs to avoid budget cuts that would jeopardize the university's quality of education and level of student services.

The committee said another factor to include in the total cost of education is a new fee of $65 per semester beginning in 2010-12 that was approved by about 70 percent of the vote in a 2006 student-wide referendum to pay for a Student Activity Center now being built. The combined effect is to increase the weighted average per semester "total cost of education" for a resident undergraduate student by $241 (5.4 percent) to $4,709 in 2010-11 and by $186 (3.95 percent) to $4,895 in 2011-12. For a resident graduate student, it is an increase of $218 (5.62 percent) to $4,100 in 2010-11, and by $162 (3.95 percent) to $4,262 in 2011-12.

The TPAC, a panel of students, faculty and administrators, said the increases are essential to enable the university to remain one of the nation's premier institutions of higher education and pursue its goal of being one of the best public institutions in the nation.

"If this is not achieved, the university will face a steady decline in educational quality due to its inability to recruit and retain talent," the committee said in its recommendation to Powers. "TPAC believes that such a decline is not acceptable to the students, faculty and staff of the university, nor is it in the best interest of the people of the State of Texas."

For the average resident undergraduate student, it is an increase of $176 per semester in 2010-11 and an increase of $186 per semester in 2011-12. For the average resident graduate student, it is an increase of $153 per semester in 2010-11 and an increase of $162 per semester in 2011-12. The committee's recommendations do not include the professional schools. In the School of Law, the Provost's Office has recommended an increase of between 3.95 and 5 percent, depending on the year of first enrollment. No tuition increase is proposed for the Master of Public Accounting program in the McCombs School of Business. A 5.86 percent hike is proposed for Master of Business Administration students in 2010-11 and a 7.11 increase in 2011-12. A 5.84 percent increase in 2010-11 and a 5.68 percent hike in 2011-12 are proposed for the PharmD program.

In accord with state law, 20 percent of the flat rate tuition increase for resident undergraduate students and 15 percent for resident graduate students would be set aside to provide financial aid grant assistance to Texas residents. The tuition hikes provide $3.2 million in financial aid funding in each year.

The committee will hold public forums on campus Jan. 20 and 26 and will meet with individual student governance groups to discus the recommendations and receive comments.

Powers is expected to review the TPAC recommendations and submit his final tuition increase proposal to the University of Texas System Board of Regents by Jan. 31, 2010.

According to the committee, without a tuition increase, the university would have to cut its budget by a minimum of $17.3 million in 2010-11 and $14.2 million in 2011-12 "simply to balance the budget."

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty said even with prudent management, the result for students of the constrained tuition policy could include reduced course availability and reduced numbers of teaching assistants, assistant instructors, lecturers, faculty and staff. It also could mean reduced availability of equipment and technology and a reduction in academic and student services.

"The modest increases recommended by TPAC will avoid an overall budget reduction but they will not generate incremental funding for such items as salary increases, faculty hiring or increasing graduate student support," Hegarty said. "It is critically important that we continue to use the resources entrusted to us efficiently and effectively. We must continue our efforts to re-allocate monies from lesser to higher priorities which include funding salary increases, continuing to hire faculty and increasing graduate student support."

The report noted that tuition increases on the order of nearly 18 percent per year over the next two years would be required to fund the critical priorities that would enable the university to pursue new initiatives.

Visit the Tuition Dollars & Sense Web site to read the complete tuition recommendations report (PDF).

The committee said its tuition recommendations are within what can reasonably be expected of students and parents financially, given the context of the economic realities, expectations of tuition affordability and the legislative policy constraints under which the university must operate.

"These recommendations provide cost predictability for students and their families, provide transparency in pricing and accountability, maintain accessibility to the university and encourage timely progress toward degrees," the committee said.

In its recommendations, the committee said the monies generated from increasing tuition would provide the university about $17.2 million in 2010-11 and $18.1 million in 2010-11 after deducting the legally required set-aside for additional student financial aid. As was the case for 2008-10 tuition income projections, tuition income for 2010-11 and 2011-12 is based on an enrollment of 49,700 students. Any increase or decrease in the university's student population would affect the amount of money generated from the tuition.

For more information, contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of the President, 512 475 7847.

To view a linked PDF file in this article, you must first download the Acrobat Reader plug-in for your browser.

50 Comments to "Tuition Policy Advisory Committee Recommends 3.95 Percent Tuition Increase to Avoid Budget Cuts"

1.  Katie said on Dec. 2, 2009

In our search to become the "best," the university is limiting the abilities of potential students to attend because of the expensive price of a higher education. How does it make anyone the "best" by pushing people out?

2.  Valeria said on Dec. 2, 2009

If the tuition increases, I will take less credits per semester, just that simple. Since the majority of the companies don't give out annual raises to their employees during these economic conditions, why should UT staff get one?

3.  David Foley said on Dec. 3, 2009

Is there a way that we could get rid of the student government to save money? They obviously are not keeping any promises, such as cutting costs. What exactly do they do?

4.  Shannon Salyer said on Dec. 3, 2009

My salary did not go up 3.5 percent this year. My salary at my job is frozen for the year because of the recession. With my degree and advanced degree, Juris Doctor (law), I can earn $80,000 a year. Is this what a professor earns at the university? I bet not. I am told that the salaries are much higher for a tenured professor. Even though I have been practicing law for more than 30 years, I earn less than a professor and have solicitations coming in asking me to contribute financially to UT. I have sent my daughter there and now am about to send my son. I am looking at $350 a semester hour for a public university that is supposed to be there to educate the children of Texas. How much higher will the tuition go? $400 per hour, $500? When will you finally make it unaffordable to a person like me, making $80,000 a year and supporting a family of four to send a child to the university. Soon I expect your enrollment to begin to shrink because you are too expensive. Local and junior colleges, and colleges online, will take your place for undergraduate studies due to the excessive cost of an undergraduate degree. $25,000 a year for four years is a minimum cost for an undergraduate degree at UT now. For me, a graduate in 1975, and for my father a graduate in 1952, these costs at a public university are unbelievable. Your increases are much higher than inflation and appear to have no end. Good luck with that.

5.  John S. Hubbard said on Dec. 3, 2009

I don't like it. Tell me, how much is enough? I have two kids and the possibility of them attending UT is becoming more and more unrealistic with each passing year.

6.  Mary Kettles said on Dec. 3, 2009

At a time when all of us are facing huge increases in taxes due to the uncontrolled spending in our government, I find this disappointing that once again UT is considering another increase. I would hope that some compromise would be available with high hopes that those on the committee will take into consideration the struggles all of us have to make our ends meet. The last thing I need is to take on a third job to support a grossly overpaid faculty member.

7.  Charles Curtis said on Dec. 3, 2009

As one who struggled to achieve an education without any government aid, I think the university must have tuition increases. The proposed increase is modest and reasonable. Just be sure aid packages are available to all students.

8.  Richard Nichols said on Dec. 3, 2009

Why would "According to the committee, without a tuition increase, the university would have to cut its budget by a minimum of $17.3 million in 2010-11 and $14.2 million in 2011-12 simply to balance the budget" be necessary? What is driving your costs up? Without any information we can speculate all we want as to whether the increase is warranted or not.

I suspect that your "2006 student-wide referendum vote" would have had differing results if those paying the tuition are the ones who voted.

9.  Crystal said on Dec. 3, 2009

I know we all don't like OU very much, but their football program recently made a large contribution to the school so that the school wouldn't have to raise tuition. We're obviously raking in enough with that stadium. Why can't they donate money, too? They're already self-sufficient plus some. Help out the other students with that plus some.

10.  Anna said on Dec. 3, 2009

FYI, UT staff did not get a raise this year, either. (I am a member.) Our salary is frozen as well.

11.  Barb Rachner said on Dec. 3, 2009

My husband and I graduated from UT, and we have three children: two sons have already graduated from the McCombs School of Business and our daughter is in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program. We can't say enough about the quality of UT education as both of our graduates have outstanding jobs. The only issue we have ever had is to PLEASE make sure our UT students can understand their professors--as many profs do not speak English well enough to understand. That is the only concern we have in paying well-deserved salaries to profs who cannot properly communicate in the English language. Blessings to all!

12.  Dusty Gibson said on Dec. 3, 2009

There is a tremendous amount of wasted dollars being dropped into the (inept) bureaucracy at UT. As well, I have witnessed gross misuse of energy (see the Tower lit much?) across campus--from lights to ACs to heating, etc. On-the-job, paid training for student teachers is fundamental if there is to be "talent" out there. How much does Powers take home compared to his talent and with the difference that he makes at the university? It is egregious through and through. Why does the solution always seem to be to skim from the bottom rather than off the top? Can't the six-figure cats drop a notch on the pay scale?

13.  Michelle said on Dec. 3, 2009

My husband and I are paying out-of state tuition to the tune of almost $29,000 this year. I can't believe in this economy that the university is going to raise tuition again. This is a big sacrifice for us. We wanted him to get the best education we could give him. He's a Radio-Television-Film major, and we appreciate that it's one of the best in the country. UT is one of the most well endowed universities in the U.S. It would be nice if some of that money could help with the expenses that the tuition raise is supposed to cover until the economy levels out. The university is just sitting on this money and now would be the perfect time to use some to help the students, for which the university exists.

14.  Patricia Young said on Dec. 4, 2009

I also find the concept of another tuition increase disappointing. As an educator and a parent of two college age students, I don't buy into the idea that cost has to increase to provide quality education. Perhaps some of the business academics could put their heads together and look for creative ways to continue to provide education without the fluff. During these difficult times, families are all faced with making difficult choices and sacrifices. Increasing tuition will force many families to consider other schools or options. When the cost of a four-year degree far exceeds earning potential, it is no longer a good investment.

15.  Virginia Raymond said on Dec. 4, 2009

To avoid *which* budget cuts? The ones that have already been announced (to much pain)? Or additional budget cuts?

16.  E-R said on Dec. 4, 2009

Guys, we have to put things in perspective. I am sure the university understands our concerns, and the fact that our earnings are not raising along with the cost of education. But have you seen the news lately? The country is in a recession. While we are seeing a 3.75 percent increase, my buddy in California is seeing a 32 percent increase. It's either that, or running out of money, then firing more people, getting less students, less money, and then raising more tuition, see the downward spiral, I hope.

This is not a choice, guys. Tuition is not going up just because UT feels like it. I think they do a good job at listening to us. If you have another solution, given the cards that we are given, please do share. I personally don't want to pay more tuition, but I don't see any other feasible solution either.

Oh, and please let's not talk about the government taxing us more. That's just dishonest because there have not being any raises in taxes (mine have gone down). Well, that is unless you are making more than $250,000, in which case, you probably can afford a better college anyhow.

17.  Cynthia said on Dec. 4, 2009

I will second what Anna said. The UT staff did not get a salary increase this year, may not get one next year, has already faced a number of layoffs, and may face more. Please don't put the onus on them.

18.  J.H. said on Dec. 4, 2009

How about we let the market work this out?

If enough people feel the tuition is too high, applications will dry up. Unless and until that happens, demand should set the price.

Otherwise the argument is: "I want something so much that I'd like it to be priced as though it were something that I didn't want so much."

What other part of life does that work for?

19.  Bill W said on Dec. 4, 2009

If the Texas state legislature would appropriate more funding, tuition rates would not have to be increased. The state legislature loves to brag about UT, but it doesn't put its money where its mouth is and only appropriates about 20 percent of the funds it takes for such an institution of higher education to operate. The legislature should either support the state schools considerably more or cut them free from their control. Either way, I think we'd have better education in Texas.

20.  Jennifer Ogilvie said on Dec. 4, 2009

Very disappointing news. We are pinching pennies and, as I tell my freshman Longhorn, "we have no life" since he started attending UT. We, like many families, are receiving no financial assistance and are sacrificing personal expenses to provide him with a quality education. Seems to me that the state's largest "public" educational institution really desires to be a private institution, seeking only students who have the means to attend. Let's use the on-campus "think tanks" to come up with some ideas that will hold spending at bay and find ways to utilize existing budgets to the advantage of all. That's what we have had to do to afford our son's UT education.

21.  Oscar Pineda said on Dec. 4, 2009

Consideration should be given to the idea of freezing the tuition cost for current students from the time they enter the university, in line with the concept utilized by UT Dallas. Honored if a student continues in full-time status. This would allow students/families to budget accordingly from the time they enter to to the completion of their degree plan.

22.  Eric Smith said on Dec. 5, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, the bigger issue for me is this. According to school policy (stated in this announcement) 20 percent of the total revenues from the increase from undergrad residents and 15 percent from graduate residents will be set aside for financial aid. That means that once again I'm paying for somebody else's child to go to school. I make more than $60,000 a year so I wont qualify for any financial aid but am paying for a guy who makes $52,000 a year to send his child to school. We still call that socialism, and it's wrong.

We should all pay for our own children. The university is indeed doing this just because they can and as for any comments about people making $250,000 being able to afford new taxes, that's just garbage. It's their money, just as my $60,000 is my money. Read the whole letter and start living the dream of wealth redistribution.

23.  Jamal Anderson said on Dec. 5, 2009

Unbelievable. Again? This is utterly ridiculous. I've never been a part of a system that lacks communication between students and the university.

24.  Tyler Jones said on Dec. 7, 2009

I am attending a junior college in California, and I am very interested in The University of Texas at Austin. Unfortunately, after reading this article about tuition increasing, I am very disappointed. It is already bad enough with out-of-state tuition costs, especially in today's economy. How much more is the tuition going to increase?

25.  Nancy said on Dec. 7, 2009

How much money could be saved if we scrapped Explore UT this March? This would be a good start at saving money. Also, why are we building this new multimillion dollar Liberal Arts complex if the university is so strapped for cash? Not only have I lost all faith in the U.S. government, but now, too, in my alma mater and employer of 12 years. How disappointing!

26.  Lorene Moreno said on Dec. 8, 2009

If UT is truly interested in increasing diversity in their student population, how about freezing salary increases for out-of-state students? Tuition for out-of-state students is equal to or more than private institutions across the country. Unless Texas wants only Texas students, they had best re-consider their out-of-state students' needs.

27.  Paul said on Dec. 8, 2009

Will the amount of financial aid available to students increase 3.95 percent as well?

28.  John Wolf said on Dec. 8, 2009

Am I understanding this correctly? Twenty percent of the 3.85 percent tuition hike will go to financial aid? Why not give all students financial assistance by only increasing tuition 3 percent? My two sons do not receive any financial aid from the university. Why am I paying for financial aid for others?

29.  Virginia Raymond said on Dec. 9, 2009

What is the relationship between these cuts--the cuts that only a tuition increase can prevent--and the as-yet-undesignated cuts that the College of Liberal Arts will continue to make over the next three to five years, according to COLA Associate Dean Richard Flores as quoted by Hudson Lockett in the Daily Texan ("Liberal Arts to trim budget again," Dec. 9, 2009)?

30.  Nick J. said on Dec. 9, 2009

I am working 30 hours per week as a student so that I can meet my expenses. Out of that income, a large part goes toward my tuition. It's really nice that a public university makes enough financial aid available to its students (although I don't get a single penny from it). So tell me how is this any fair? On one side there is a student working 30 hours and taking a full load of science courses and on the other hand there's another student who is not working a single hour, relies on financial aid and parties and socializes for most of the time. Believe me, what I've learned from the past four years is that the majority of the students fall into the latter category. So I do mind giving away my money for 20 percent of the financial aid cut. I am better off giving that money away to some kids in Africa who deserve it in the truest sense.

31.  Paul Soal said on Dec. 9, 2009

We love the UT football program. It's the best in the nation. But we request that Mack Brown not take his $2 million salary increase now. Please wait until the economy gets better. ("Brown to receive $5M a season,"

32.  Steve said on Dec. 9, 2009

Folks, if you want to see something that will make your blood boil then take a look at this Public University Salaries Web site.

It contains the salaries for all employees at UT Austin. For example, the football head coach made $771,000 in 2008 and got a raise to $870,000 in 2009. There are more than 150 people who make more than $200,000 per year. People complain about the salaries in the private sector, but wake up, people. I work at UT in staff, not faculty. Faculty walk on water, and must be paid handsomely. Staff did not receive a pay increase for 2009-10. These are the people who mostly make between $30,000 and $70,000. Most colleges have cut their staffs with only minor impact to faculty. We have also seen financial aid decrease. When the private sector contracts, people get paid less or laid off. That's not the altered universe of tenured professors. You will always pay more because professors will always be overpaid. I'd like to see what they would make in the private sector. Most would not make anything close to the compensation they receive here.

33.  William Nonus said on Dec. 10, 2009

Are you kidding? A football coach under a long-term contract gets an increase from $3 million to $5 million per year. Get rid of the HR or athletic director who made this decision during a recession!

34.  BillW said on Dec. 10, 2009

It's not Coach Brown's fault that the Board of Regents decided to raise his salary. And, considering what other big football program coaches get, he deserves it. At the same time, with UT having to lay off employees and cut programs, it seems inappropriate to give such a large salary increase (as well as accept it). It's time for the UT football program to begin funneling some of its funds toward education. I know that's not going to happen, but it should.

35.  Virginia Raymond said on Dec. 10, 2009

Learned the answer to my question (comments 15 and 29) tonight. The money that a tuition increase would raise will not go to any of the colleges. A tuition increase will not prevent, forestall or mitigate the cuts that COLA administrators plan to make over the next three to five years. The COLA cuts, not yet announced (and according to COLA administrators not yet determined) are coming no matter what.

36.  Ken C. said on Dec. 11, 2009

Why not just cut the student services budget? Do we really need gender identity crisis centers?

37.  Birdie said on Dec. 11, 2009

I love UT, but how about we use Mack Brown's new multimillion-dollar raise to cover this tuition increase.

38.  WH said on Dec. 12, 2009

I hope to send my two sons to UT in seven years and nine years respectively, and I am becoming increasingly fearful of what this will end up costing me.

Like other public utilities, I can foresee a situation where not enough people can afford to attend the university, so tuition will have to go up to continue to support ever-increasing salaries for the tenured staff on fewer attendees! Think the Texas 121 Tollway.

Publicly supported institutions, like banks (backstopped), hospitals (Medicare) and universities, need to get their salary costs in line with those of us in the truly private sector. I agree with Steve (comment #32) that most of the faculty could not make as much as they do in the real private sector. Many in the Business School could, however, do as well on publicly funded Wall Street.

39.  Ken W said on Dec. 14, 2009

All you have to do is open up enrollment to more than 10 percent out-of-state students. Since we pay four times more for the same education, if you double the out-of-state student enrollment to 20 percent you can freeze tuition increases.

University of Michigan has more than 30 percent out-of-state students. By increasing the enrollment from outside of Texas you can improve the finances and improve the reputation of the university. It is not seen at the same level as Cal Berkeley, Michigan and Virginia since there are so few spots available to qualified out-of-state students.

My wife and daughter are graduates of UT, and my son is a freshman there. Tuition has more than doubled since my daughter started there in 2003.

40.  Em said on Dec. 15, 2009

I'm a senior biology student going to medical school next year at Baylor College of Medicine. Honestly, I don't see what the problem is with a little increase in tuition, or even a large increase for that matter. A college education is an investment in your future. No one complains about the cost of medical school, and it blows the lid off the price of undergraduate coursework. Take some financial aid, get a loan, get a job and make the most of your life, or don't get an education at all. It's that simple. The price we pay at UT is a steal. The education we receive at this prized flagship university for the cost we incur is second to none.

To all of you people who are making assumptions instead of researching facts first: Mack Brown's salary has NO IMPACT and NO CORRELATION to this increase in tuition. The Texas athletics program makes more money than any other in the nation. In 2007, it was $120 million, and football brought in 80 percent of that number. They kick back a large amount to the university itself, and the football program's revenue helps pay for other athletic programs as well. Look up UT's budget before making accusations and assumptions. Mack Brown helps to recruit the top athletes that make up our football team. Because of this, our team is great, and we win games. People want to buy our merchandise and wear UT logos. Therefore, because Mack helps to make this university so much money, he has been rewarded.

If you want a GOOD education, you have to make an investment. Think of what you put in and what you get out: $5,000 a year for four years is $20,000, and let's say another $40,000 for housing and food. A degree in engineering or from McCombs or a degree that sets you up for professional school (in my case medical school), will bring in at least $80,000 a year until you retire. Seems like a tough decision...not. Get over it or go work for minimum wage the rest of your life. I'd gladly pay $20,000 a year to attend a premium, tier one university that consistently ranks high academically. If you want to cheap out and make the investment in the equivalent of dollar stocks, then by all means, attend a tier three university out in the boonies of west Texas.

Professors make the money they do, which isn't necessarily always a lot, because it is the professors who pass THEIR knowledge to the students. I don't pay tuition so I can learn molecular biology from the RecSports staff. I pay tuition so I can learn from an expert in the field. That professor also engages in research and writes grants all day to receive the funding for their lab to stay afloat and continue the research that makes this university so amazing.

If you don't want to pay for the tuition increase, then don't buy football tickets, don't go to the movies, don't go to Sixth Street, and learn to save your money in the first place. Don't spend your money on Starbucks or pay $30 a month for digital cable unless you have the means to do so. Education at the college age comes before all these trivial conveniences, so that in the future you can afford them.

I worked hard at UT to get accepted to a top medical school, and I paid for tuition at UT via scholarships, working for the university as a tutor (which at the minimum for the majority of student jobs at UT is $10.47/hour--amazing), and founding a company. In other words, make it happen yourself and stop asking for handouts from the state, the university or Mack Brown.

41.  Em said on Dec. 15, 2009

*Correction: $9,000 a year (not $5,000) for four years plus the $40,000 for living expenses, so $76,000 total.

42.  David said on Dec. 17, 2009

The purpose of the university is to educate and preserve knowledge. Why then is tuition being raised when the football coach gets a two million dollar rise in pay?

The tuition increase may not sound like much but for those of us who have two jobs so our kids can go to school, it is a lot.

I love UT and support it, but I wonder sometimes about its priorities.

43.  A said on Dec. 19, 2009

University staff did not receive pay raises this year and aren't for the next year. I would know, as I am a College of Fine Arts employee.

So when the Horns lose the championship game (they will), can we allocate Mack Brown's bonus back into school in a more appropriate way?

44.  Vincent J said on Dec. 20, 2009

Steve: "That's not the altered universe of tenured professors.You will always pay more because professors will always be overpaid. I'd like to see what they would make in the private sector. Most would not make anything close to the compensation they receive here."

They might be "overpaid" by your standards but I guarantee that the private sector pays a lot more than the university. Imagine being in school until you're 30. And not the party kind of school but the kind of school where you work your tail off for very little money and very little recognition until you finally get your Ph.D. Then you postdoc for about six to eight years earning at most $50,000 a year (mind you, at this point you are one of the highest educated minds in the country) and then finally, maybe you get a tenure track position at a large institution (don't bet on it) but then it's still a 10-year long route of continually publishing research and writing grant proposals until you finally get offered tenure. Here you are, probably about 50, you have more education that 99 percent of the country, you have the respect of your peers and you finally have tenure. You get paid a low six-figure salary at this point and people come in here and tell you that you don't deserve it because they have to pay a little more in tuition for their kids to drink beer and sleep through class. I am a student here, and it makes me sick to think people think like this.

45.  Bill W said on Dec. 21, 2009

It is unfortunate that some feel they should not support public education for people other than their own children! May I remind everyone that most of us have benefited from "free" public education..."free" inasmuch as our parents could not have paid for it all: school buildings, utilities, teacher's salaries, etc. for each of us, no matter how much they paid.

UT provides an excellent education at a small cost considering what you'd have to pay to go out of state, or even compared to other universities such as UCLA, Stanford, Yale, etc.

46.  Morgan said on Jan. 2, 2010

All complaints about Coach Brown's salary are way off base. The UT football program is more than self-financing. In fact, it pretty much pays for all athletics, scholarships included, at UT. Beyond that it also makes annual contributions back to the university for academics and other programs. Without Texas football paying the bills you would have massive cuts in athletics and academics, and much less charitable alumni (who love to brag about the Horns).

47.  psycho joe said on Jan. 2, 2010

How much does Powers make?

48.  psycho joe said on Jan. 2, 2010

Note that on average UT professors make $132,000 and Harvard professors make $192,000. We should be able to pay more. I think UT should focus on being among the best universities rather than be a budget school.

49.  Virginia Raymond said on Jan. 4, 2010

What's with the "bestness" anyway? What does "best" mean? The obsession with "bestness" only suggests to me that people are not thinking critically. Or thinking at all.

50.  M said on Feb. 3, 2010

I am recently graduated from UT with a degree in physics and personally benefited from financial aid. And I am glad that the university supplies some financial aid in addition to the federal financial aid. I know that people whose children don't receive financial aid are upset that some of their tuition paid goes to helping people like me, and that's a legitimate gripe. But without financial aid, I would never have been able to attend college. I came from a single-parent household with an income of less than $20,000 a year and three children. Yes, my family didn't have to pay a single penny for my university education, but I still had to work my way through college. I did receive work-study funding, but also had to have a second job as well. I worked 30 hours a week, sometimes 40, and sometimes as much as 50 hours a week all throughout college just so I could support myself, and it still wasn't always enough to even make ends meet. I went hungry a lot during college, and my grades suffered due to lack of time for studying. So from the other end of the spectrum, I am also upset about the tuition increases, because it means that it will be even harder for students like me to survive during four years at UT. It means that we will get even less allowance from financial aid to pay for living expenses related to attending college. And will have to work more and more, and our grades will falter more and more due to lack of time for studying. Unfortunately, my parents didn't get degrees and struggled to support their children, but I don't think that children of people like them should be hindered from receiving funding that allows them to obtain the best education possible, especially if they have displayed academic excellence and drive their entire lives. If they are, then the cycle just continues and we have even more drain on social programs that you and I pay for with our tax dollars.