As the economy tightens the wallets of parents planning to send their kids to college, Texas Governor Rick Perry has a plan to help alleviate the growing financial burden by freezing college tuition at public schools.

Perry hopes to freeze college tuition in the public sector at the price a student pays his or her freshman year.

Lucy Nashed, deputy press secretary to the office of governor Rick Perry, said in an email that the governor’s idea is not a new one, as he has mentioned the tuition freeze in his last two State of the State addresses.

“Institutions can already adopt tuition freezes and some, like the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Texas at El Paso, have adopted them,” Nashed said in an email. “But as more and more Texans are looking for higher education opportunities, the governor is calling on more institutions to give Texas families predictability in cost.”

Nashed said the freeze also serves as an incentive for students to complete their degrees in four years.

“The governor is committed to working with stakeholders to determine the best course of action for students,” Nashed said.

She said community college and transfer students are also eligible for a tuition freeze for the amount of time remaining in their degrees.

“We need to provide an incentive for universities to not only enroll students, but to make sure they are actually completing a degree – instead of 100 percent of formula funding being based on enrollment,” Nashed said.

Perry also wants to base a portion of a school’s funding on the amount of graduates it produces. This means that instead of funding colleges based on their enrollment, the government will base funding on the number of students who graduate, Nashed said.

“The role of these institutions is to help students graduate with a quality higher education,” she said. “Changing the funding structure will allow them demonstrate a clear commitment to more productivity and better outcomes as a down payment for more resources from the state.”

Denise Schmidt, administrative assistant for the Wesleyan School of Business Administration and Professional Programs, said she has mixed feelings about the governor’s idea.

“I think it is a good idea, and that it could help many families, but I think it is limiting children’s school choices,” Schmidt said. “Because, even though you are living here in Texas, you can only go to Texas public schools and you couldn’t go to any private institutions.”

Schmidt said if parents participate in the governor’s plan, they are forcing their children to stay close to home, but she sees some positive aspects about the tuition freeze as well.

“The positives I see are for someone who is on a strict budget. You always know what you are going to pay,” Schmidt said. “You can save up and have that money and it will be a set amount and you do not have to worry about if [tuition] would increase the next semester.”

Chasiti Dixon, Wesleyan administrative assistant and graduate support specialist in the School of Business, also said she sees the benefits of the program, but has another concern.

“I think the plan is set for some individuals that have generations of college-bound graduates,” Dixon said. “But, for families who are large scale, such as mine, you don’t know how many are going to be going to school.”

Perry also challenged state colleges and universities to offer a $10,000 bachelor’s degree that includes the cost of textbooks.

For more information about Perry’s initiatives visit http://governor.state.tx.us/ and click on the initiatives tab followed by the education tab.

Rachel Peel

rlpeel@txwes.edu