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Perry to UT regents: Don't rush to raise tuition

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Posted: May 14, 2014 12:28 PM

Updated: May 14, 2014 12:28 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday waded into an already tense week for the University of Texas System and signaled opposition to proposed tuition hikes that would push average semester costs at the flagship Austin campus past $5,000.

It's the second time in two years that Perry has balked at raising rates and is another sign of friction with UT in a long-running battle over affordability and accountability in higher education.

Perry urged caution in a letter to regents Chairman Paul Foster as the system board met Wednesday to consider tuition increases.

"To put a college degree within reach for more students and to combat the epidemic of student indebtedness, we should put a far greater emphasis on controlling the spiraling cost of a college education," Perry wrote. "Forcing students to bear the brunt of additional costs is not the solution."

The letter came just two days after a bipartisan Texas House panel found grounds for impeachment against Regent Wallace Hall over efforts to get UT Austin President Bill Powers fired. Hall is accused of improperly launching a one-man investigation against Powers and inundating the UT system in open records requests.

Hall was appointed by Perry in 2011. If impeached, he would be the first governor-appointed official removed from office.

Hall has denied breaking any laws and was back at work Wednesday at the regents meeting. Powers was expected to testify later Wednesday in support of raising tuition at the 50,000-student campus that he's led since 2006.

Regents haven't raised tuition at UT Austin since 2011. Powers sought another increase in 2012 but had that proposal rejected, and Perry at the time called it a "good message" that the state will not ignore economic realities facing families.

UT Austin officials argue that its costs remain some of the lowest compared to similar major public universities. Last fall, the average undergraduate cost per semester for a Texas resident was $4,889.

Topics: Perry-UT System

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