A college degree is a basic requirement for many of the best jobs, and a benefit that provides real financial advantages throughout life.

That's why it's disturbing that the price of higher education seems to be climbing out of reach for many Texans. If college becomes possible only for the few, our young people and our nation will suffer for it. Our kids will find themselves squeezed out of their best chance for financial success, and America will miss out on the productivity and innovation of many of our best minds.

Individuals with a college degree earn about twice what someone with only a high school degree earns.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.1

At present, though, the cost of college is increasing rapidly, rising about three times as fast as inflation.

Tuition and fees have greatly outpaced inflation at both public and private higher education institutions.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.2

Multiple factors are driving the enormous increase in tuition, including the growth in spending on activities other than instruction and a decline in state support for education.

Particularly worrying is the fact that rising tuition rates are driving an equally steep increase in college loan debt. Many Texas college graduates and former students are entering adult life hobbled by years and even decades of crippling debt. They made an "investment in the future" that will only make it hard for them to create that future, to own a home or a car, and to start families of their own.

Average student debt grew at nearly three times the rate of inflation from 2004 to 2012.

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.3

Texas tuition costs are rising faster than inflation, forcing increasing numbers of students to turn to loans from a variety of sources.

  • 20.5 percent of all student debt holders in Texas were more than 90 days delinquent on their debt in 2012.4
  • About 14 percent of student borrowers are in default within three years of leaving school, according to the U.S. Department of Education.5
  • While it is reasonable to expect recent graduates to make financial sacrifices while starting their careers, the average amount of such debt has climbed, meaning that these sacrifices are deeper than they were for previous generations.
  • Researchers and policymakers are concerned that rising debt levels are affecting the broader economy.

Some students, moreover, may be unaware of the full costs when taking out a loan. Federal law requires universities to provide some key loan terms to students, but it does not explicitly require them to provide information on the total lifetime cost of loans.

About 60 percent of student debt holders surveyed by the American Institute of CPAs expressed regret about their choice to finance their education with loans.

Source: American Institute of CPAs.6

Outpacing Inflation

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, outstanding education debt in the U.S. more than tripled in the last decade, and stood at $1.08 trillion as of December 31, 2013.

The outstanding student loan balance is now the nation's second-largest form of household debt after mortgage debt, surpassing the total credit card balance ($683 billion) and total auto loan balance ($863 billion).

From 2003 to 2013, student loans outpaced all other forms of non-mortgage debt.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York.7

Note: Mortgage debt excluded from graphic due to scale. Data prior to 2003 were unavailable.

In Texas, student loan debt has increased at a faster rate than inflation.

Between 2004 and 2012, the average Texas student debt balance grew by 61 percent. Inflation increased by only 22 percent.

The average 2012 Texas student loan debt was $22,800, about 8 percent below the U.S. average.

Student loan debt outpaced inflation both in the United States and in Texas from 2004 to 2012.

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.8

What Will College Cost in the Future?

Use the scroll bar to see the public university tuition costs and student loan debt you or your children may face. Click on and drag the orange dot to select the desired freshman year and current age. Hover your mouse over the bars to see estimated tuition and fees and student loan debt.

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.9

Note: Forecasts are 2013 dollars (all years were adjusted for inflation) and were obtained by applying the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from available historical tuition and student loan debt data to future years. Future tuition costs and student loan debt amounts will depend on many factors and may differ from the figures shown. Graphic assumes students start college in the fall at age 18 and graduate in 5.12 years, the average time to graduation for a sampling of 2011 public university graduates provided by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Delinquency and Default

Some students find their debt burden too great to repay, despite the fact that delinquency can cause long-term damage to credit.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that about half of all outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. goes unpaid.10 The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that nearly a third of student loan borrowers in repayment are delinquent on their debt.11

The share of borrowers more than 90 days delinquent on their student loans has grown in the U.S. and its most populous states.

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax.12

Note: The uptick in delinquency rates seen in 2012 can be partially explained by delayed reporting of previously defaulted student loan debt during 2012 Q3.

  • Delinquency among U.S. student debt holders rose from 9.4 percent in 2004 to 17.3 percent in 2012; in Texas, it rose from 12 percent to 20.5 percent.
  • Texas' 20.5 percent delinquency rate is 10th highest in the nation.
  • As of June 2013, the average balance of debt for defaulted borrowers is about $14,500.13
  • Research comparing private and public loan delinquency rates is limited.

Noncompleters: Borrowing Without Finishing

Obviously, student debt can weigh particularly heavily on those who fail to complete college and thus miss out on its economic benefits.

  • According to a study published in 2013, in 2009 the share of beginning students who did not complete a degree or certificate and were not enrolled six years after starting college ranged from 19 percent at private four-year colleges to 46 percent at public two-year institutions.14
  • Among these noncompleters, 54 percent of those who attended a public four-year institution had taken out federal student loans, as did 66 percent of those who attended a private university.15
The average student loan burden among those who did not complete their degree is substantial at all institution types.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics.16

  • Students with some college but no degree have significantly lower earnings than graduates, making it more difficult for them to cover their student loan payments.
  • Researchers note that the most frequent cause of default is inadequate personal income to cover loan payments, while completing a higher education program is the strongest single predictor of avoiding default.17

Financial Impact of Student Loan Debt

The rapid growth of student loan debt has spurred financial experts to examine its impact on the broader economy.

  • The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Financial Research reports that student loan debt could significantly reduce economic activity and demand for mortgage credit.18
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has cited concerns that student debt may inhibit entrepreneurship and small business formation.19

The average balance carried by U.S. students who graduated with college debt in 2011 was $27,152 and equaled roughly 60 percent of average yearly earnings ($45,276) for college graduates under age 30, according to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee.20

Texas graduates fared better; their average loan-debt balance equaled $22,600 or 46 percent of average yearly earnings ($49,112) for college graduates under age 30.21

Student loan debt represents a large share of college graduates' salaries, requiring them to delay or forgo other financial opportunities.

A national survey of student loan borrowers and their parents conducted by the American Institute of CPAs reports that 41 percent of those surveyed have delayed contributions to retirement accounts because of monthly student loan payments; 40 percent have delayed auto purchases.

Based on a survey by the American Institute of CPAs, student debt burdens have caused many borrowers to make significant personal or financial sacrifices.

Source: American Institute of CPAs.22

Financial Disclosures for Student Loans

Federal law requires that lenders disclose key loan terms to students before they take out loans.

Terms such as the principal amount, stated interest on the loan, and details on whether interest will accrue while the student is enrolled must be presented for both private and federal loans.

The federal requirements, however, do not explicitly require universities to provide information on the total lifetime cost of loans.

See our recommendation on student loan disclosure requirements.

Creditors for other types of loans, such as auto loans, must present the total lifetime cost – that is, the total amount paid including all scheduled payments.

Learn more about financial disclosure requirements.

Income-Based Repayment and Loan Forgiveness

The rapidly growing student loan debt burden has prompted various proposals in response. One concept, income-based repayment (IBR), has led researchers to estimate its potential cost to taxpayers.

Participation in income-based repayment plans -- and student loan balances covered by them -- has soared in the past year alone.

Source: U.S. Department of Education.23

  • IBR programs set monthly payments at a given percentage of disposable income.
  • The federal government already has three IBR programsincome-based repayment, income-contingent repayment and Pay as You Earn, all of which also offer forgiveness of remaining balances after a set number of years.
  • Enrollment in IBR programs rose by 59 percent from Q3 2013 to Q3 2014, faster growth than for any other type of direct federal student loan.24
  • In June 2014, President Obama took executive action to expand eligibility for Pay as You Earn, the smallest but most quickly growing of the existing federal programs.
  • Some researchers are concerned that such programs encourage students to take out more debt and may provide incentives for universities to raise tuition costs.
  • Another concern is that loan forgiveness can place an undue burden on taxpayers. The Brookings Institution found that loan forgiveness generates about half of all IBR program costs.25

Average undergraduate tuition and fees are rising faster than inflation in Texas.

The cause? There are several:

  • University spending, particularly in non-instructional areas, has increased.
  • Staffing and salary spending in administrative and other non-instructional sectors have grown.
  • State appropriations have declined.

But some new trends, such as competency-based courses and massive open online courses (MOOCs), could help control the expense of higher education.

Tuition Keeps Increasing

Despite the positive returns that come with a college degree, the required investment has increased dramatically, with average undergraduate public tuition and fees rising faster than inflation. In Texas, average in-state public university tuition and fees rose by 90 percent between 2003 and 2012.

In the same period, healthcare prices rose by 40 percent; median income rose by 32 percent; inflation rose by 25 percent; and housing prices rose by 21 percent.

Tuition and fees at Texas public universities have increased far faster than inflation, median household income, healthcare prices, and housing prices.

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.26

Texas' in-state tuition and fees have risen faster than those of other populous states, increasing by 344 percent from 1990 to 2010.

Tuition and Fee Growth in the Most Populous States: In-State Tuition and Fees at Public Four-Year Universities (Adjusted for Inflation in 2010 Dollars)

Sources: American Institutes for Research, Delta Cost Project Database, and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.27

In 2003, the Texas Legislature deregulated tuition, allowing universities to set tuition rates themselves. Prior to 2003 they had been set by the Legislature.

Despite this high growth, at $8,522, Texas tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year were about 4 percent below the U.S. average of $8,893.

Texas tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year were about 4 percent below the U.S. average and lower than those in both Illinois and California.

Source: Delta Cost Project, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.28

See tuition and fees at Texas public universities and community colleges.

Public versus Private University Tuition Costs

Private colleges and universities, unsurprisingly, tend to be more expensive than public institutions — between three and four times more expensive — both nationwide and in Texas.

In terms of sticker price, private colleges and universities tend to be between three and four times more expensive than public institutions, both nationwide and in Texas.

Source: The College Board.29

  • It should be noted that the published tuition and fees stated above reflect the prices charged by universities before taking financial aid into consideration.
  • Net price reflects what students actually pay after accounting for financial aid such as scholarships, grants and federal tax credits and deductions.
  • Estimated net tuition and fees for private nonprofit four-year institutions was $12,460 in 2013-14, compared to $30,090 in published tuition and fees.30

A growth-rate comparison for public versus private colleges yields differing trends on the national and Texas levels.

According to data from the College Board, U.S. public university tuition and fees growth has outpaced such growth at private colleges during the past decade.

U.S. public four-year university tuition and fees grew from $6,322 to $8,893 from 2004-05 to 2013-14, while private nonprofit tuition and fees grew from $24,722 to $30,094.

Adjusted for inflation, tuition and fees grew more substantially at public two- and four-year institutions than private nonprofit institutions nationwide from 2004 to 2014.

Sources: The College Board.31

Texas private university tuition and fees, in contrast, have grown more quickly than public university tuition and fees in the last few years.

Texas public four-year university tuition and fees grew from $6,259 to $8,522 from 2004-05 to 2013-14, while private non-profit tuition and fees rose from $20,440 to $29,750.

Contrasting with the national trend, in Texas, tuition and fees grew more significantly at private nonprofit institutions than public two- and four-year institutions from 2004 to 2014.

Sources: The College Board.32

Net Price Calculators

With tuition rising faster than other expenses, it's becoming all the more important for students to have the tools they need to estimate college costs. Net price calculators are online tools that can help students and their parents get a full picture of what a degree will cost, based on factors such as family income, household size and dependency status, to estimate tuition and fees, room and board and net price after grants and scholarships.

stock image

See sample net price calculator output below:

Note: Sample output created by custom query to Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's statewide net price calculator. Output results will vary depending on personal information entered into calculator.

Visit the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's statewide net price calculator to estimate your college costs.

Since fall 2011, all colleges that enroll first-time, full-time undergraduates and offer federal financial aid have been required to provide net price calculators on their websites. In addition, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board offers a statewide net price calculator that draws on financial data submitted by Texas colleges.

Such calculators are not always easy to find, though; a recent study found that many universities post them on parts of their websites unrelated to costs and financial aid.33 Even when posted in context with other financial materials, the links often are not positioned prominently on the page.

Our review of public Texas university websites found that universities do place the net price calculators within the financial aid sections of their websites, but they are often near the bottom of a list or grouping of other links.

See our recommendation on net price calculators.

Texas public universities vary in terms of how they post their net price calculators for students and families to use.

Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.34

See full listing of Texas public universities' net price calculators.

What Tuition and Fees Pay For

In addition to how much they are paying, students should know what their tuition and fees are going toward.

Public universities and colleges in Texas have broad authority to set designated tuition levels and to budget and spend tuition revenues as they see fit. Fees must be used for their stated purposes.     

Many universities, such as Texas A&M University, make explanations for various fees available on their websites

Information on what tuition actually buys, however, is often more difficult to find. Some universities, such as UT-Austin, are starting to present categorical cost breakdowns for students, but this is uncommon.

Why Has Tuition Increased?

Administrative spending

In Texas, some often-cited data suggest that administrative costs have not risen significantly in recent years.

American Institutes for Research data show that from 1990 to 2010, Texas public universities' administrative costs as a share of educational and related expenses remained fairly steady, hovering between 28 and 32 percent, with the 2010 share at 30 percent.35

Operating costs

Student services and academic support were the fastest-growing operational spending categories at Texas public universities from fiscal 1994 to 2013.

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.36

Note: Decrease in spending on capital outlay from current fund sources may be partially due to data collection system change in 2003.

See operating expense category definitions.

Common definitions for administrative costs, however, typically exclude functions such as student services, which are clearly not instruction or research activities — and include some activities, such as student aid administration and student records, which many would regard as administrative. At any rate, it is clear that the fastest-growing categories of spending are non-instructional.

Spending in such categories rose more quickly than instruction, research and public service spending from 1994 to 2013.

Under state law, Texas public universities and colleges have broad authority to budget and spend tuition revenues as they see fit. For example, Chapter 51 of the Texas Education Code gives boards of regents at institutions of higher education the authority to control funds from various revenue streams and to budget those funds. 

Examples of student amenities at Texas public universities


Photo courtesy of UT Recreational Sports

Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University

Photo courtesy of Texas Tech University

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), Texas public universities' operational spending per full-time student equivalent (FTSE) rose by an inflation-adjusted 20.8 percent from fiscal 1994 through 2013.

  • The largest growth occurred in student services (137 percent) and academic support (99.4 percent).
  • The student services category includes admissions and registrar offices but can also include activities such as cultural events and intramural athletics.
  • Academic support includes items such as galleries, deans' salaries and technical support.
  • Student services and academic support represent relatively small shares of total operating use spending per FTSE.
  • Even so, these shares grew from fiscal 1994 to 2013. Student services rose from 3 percent to 6 percent, while academic support went from 6 percent to 10 percent.
Overall, the distribution of operating use spending across categories remained fairly consistent at Texas public universities from fiscal 1994 to 2013.

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.37

Though student services and academic support are the fastest-growing spending categories, currently there are no standardized measures in place to compare the benefits of these activities to their costs.

See our recommendation on student services and academic support activities.

Universities could compare students' academic performance before and after implementation of certain student services, for example.

Staffing Categories

Staffing for various employee categories provides another way to examine how higher education resources are allocated.

American Institutes for Research data indicate that from 1990 to 2010, administrative staffing per full-time student equivalent (FTSE) at Texas public universities increased more quickly than instruction and research positions:

The number of Texas public university employees per full-time student equivalent classified as Other Professional increased the most among all categories from 1990 to 2010.

Sources: Delta Cost Project, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.38

See staffing category definitions.

Salary Spending

Examination of university employee salary spending also reflects faster growth in categories that include some administrative-type positions, such as student services and academic support. The following inflation-adjusted changes occurred in wage and salary expenditures per full-time student equivalent (FTSE) at public Texas four-year institutions from 1990 to 2010:

Changes in Salary Spending per Student, Public Texas Four-Year Institutions, 1990-2010 (Adjusted for Inflation)
Salary Spending Category Percent Increase
Instruction 29 percent
Research 65 percent
Public Service 53 percent
Academic Support 93 percent
Student Services 142 percent
Institutional Support 55 percent

Sources: Delta Cost Project, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.39

Note: Calculations for salary spending categories created from matched dataset for 1990 to 2010. Instruction salaries and wages include compensation paid for instructional positions, including faculty, part- time and full- time employees and student employees of the colleges, schools, departments and other instructional divisions of the institution, and for departmental research and public service that are not separately budgeted. Public service salaries and wages include compensation for employees who provide non-instructional services beneficial to individuals and groups external to the institution, such as conferences, institutes, general advisory services and reference bureaus.

  • Salary spending for student services and academic support rose the fastest, at 142 percent and 93 percent, respectively.
  • Salary spending for instructional positions, such as full-time and part-time faculty, saw the least growth, at 29 percent, suggesting that faculty salaries are not a primary driver of tuition costs.
  • Though the increases in compensation spending are partly due to staffing increases, salary growth likely accounts for at least some of the uptick.

Salaries for academic deans, for example, have outpaced inflation in the past several years, according to national data from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

  • Growth in median salaries for 28 of 41 deans' positions surveyed (68 percent) outpaced inflation from 2007 to 2013.40
  • The fastest-growing median salaries during these years were for deans of government and public affairs and deans of computer and information sciences, both of which grew by 27 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.41

State Support Declines

The rise in tuition costs during the past few decades coincided with declines in state appropriations. State support has not kept pace with enrollment growth and inflation.

The sources of Texas public university revenue per FTSE changed substantially from 1990 to 2010, with the share of state & local appropriations dropping while the share of net tuition rose.

Sources: Delta Cost Project, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.42

While state appropriations fell, the cost burden to students and families increased via higher tuition and fees. In Texas, the share of public university revenue from tuition rose from 10 percent to 22 percent on a per-student basis from 1990 to 2010.43

Despite the decline in state appropriations, total revenues including all funding sources increased during those years. Federal sources other than Pell grants, however, are generally used for research purposes rather than student instruction.

It should be noted that student tuition and fees do not cover the full cost of instruction in any state. Students pay only a share of that cost — a share that varies considerably from state to state — with the remainder largely covered through state appropriations.

Constitutional Endowment Funds

In addition to direct state appropriations, institutions of higher education in Texas are also eligible to receive funding from other sources such as constitutional endowment funds. Constitutional funds benefit particular groups of institutions depending on the specific fund purpose or constitutional authority.

Read More >>

  • The Available University Fund (AUF) consists of the "surface income and investment proceeds" from the Permanent University Fund, a permanent state endowment comprising more than 2 million acres of land.
    • Two-thirds of the AUF is appropriated to the University of Texas System and the other one-third to the Texas A&M University System.
    • Each system board of regents makes decisions about how AUF funds are allocated among campuses.
    • In August 2014, the University of Texas System Board of Regents voted to exercise its ability to increase AUF distributions in an effort to keep student tuition at UT-System campuses flat.
    • The Board plans to increase AUF distributions to system campuses while consolidating some services in the System, thereby freeing up other revenue to help cover tuition costs.
  • The Higher Education Fund (HEF) is supported by general revenue appropriations and benefits higher education institutions that are not eligible to receive AUF funding. Institutions are required to use HEF funds for capital purposes, either for debt service on HEF bonds or as cash.
  • The National Research University Fund (NRUF) is a dedicated HEF fund targeting emerging research institutions.
  • Institutions must meet two mandatory criteria and at least four out of six optional criteria in order to be eligible for NRUF funding.
  • The two mandatory criteria are that the university be designated as an emerging research university within the Higher Education Coordinating Board's Accountability System, and that the university reported $45 million or more in restricted research spending for each of the previous two fiscal years.44

Despite rising tuition costs and loan debt burdens, the share of the population enrolling in college continues to grow. Enrollment in Texas degree-granting institutions rose by 49 percent from 2000 to 2012, versus 24 percent growth in the Texas population and 37 percent growth in the number of high school graduates.45

One reason students may be willing to take on more debt is that college is generally a good investment. On average, college graduates can expect to earn significantly higher wages than those with only a high school diploma.

And some degrees generate a greater return on investment than others. Graduates with degrees in fields such as science, technology, engineering or math in particular will see a significant advantage in salaries compared to their peers who graduate with other degrees.

College Grads Earn More

Individuals with a college degree earn about twice what someone with only a high school degree earns.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Bureau of Labor Statistics; Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.46

Why get a college degree? College graduates can expect, on average, to earn more than their peers holding only a high school diploma. And this gap continues to widen.

But not all college degrees are built the same. Consider the "return on investment" for higher education, based on costs and average future earnings by degree type.

For two-year institutions:

  • an associate's degree produces the greatest average wages after a decade ($56,227).

For public universities:

  • a professional degree (such as medical, dental, legal and pharmaceutical degrees) produces the highest average earnings ($128,551) and the greatest average dollar growth in earnings ($37,524) over a decade.
  • a doctoral degree produces the next-highest earnings after 10 years ($93,317).
  • a bachelor's degree generates the lowest earnings, but still has the second-highest earnings growth after a decade.
Return on Investment Varies by Degree Type
Institutional LevelType of DegreeTuition & Fees (Full-Time, 30 SCH) Time to Degree (Years)% of Grads with LoansAverage Loan AmountAverage Wages: 1 YearAverage Wages: 5 YearsAverage Wages: 10 Years$ Change in Wages, Year 1-Year 10 Wage Growth, Year 1-Year 10
Community, Technical and State Colleges Associate's $1,5074.637%$17,592$39,931$49,957$56,227$16,29641%
CertificateN/A3.720%$11,604 $33,750$41,866$46,555$12,80538%
Marketable Skills AwardN/A3.67%$13,357$29,042$30,854$37,330$8,28829%
Public Universities Bachelor's$4,388 5.457%$34,605 $38,770 $56,289 $69,055 $30,285 78%
Master'sN/AN/A38%$37,275 $57,822 $74,827 $87,745 $29,923 52%
ProfessionalN/AN/A79%$62,522 $91,027 $119,790 $128,551 $37,524 41%
DoctoralN/AN/A31%$42,614 $69,775 $85,883 $93,317 $23,542 34%

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.47

Notes: All financial data reported in 2012 dollars. Data reflect a 2002 cohort of Texas higher education graduates.

STEM versus Non-STEM

There's a significant earning difference between individuals who graduate with science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degrees and their peers who graduate with other degrees.

Wages by Degree Type, Sorted by Average Wages 10 Years After Graduation
Level of degree Average wage: 1 year after graduation Average wage: 5 years after graduation Average wage: 10 years after graduation Number of graduatesTime to degree (years)% of graduates with loans Average loan
Graduate Certificates$145,402$216,446$255,51976n/a66%$76,863
Professional STEM$69,710$130,201$215,2082,080n/a86%$93,130
Graduate Certificates STEM$114,581$158,476$186,92518n/a67%$84,106
Professional$87,262$123,706$139,1061,109n/a80%$61,767
Doctoral STEM$72,725$95,928$111,495914n/a23%$42,321
Master's STEM$64,764$88,305$108,34910,075n/a34%$36,960
Doctoral$65,673$88,785$91,7771,197n/a37%$42,591
Bachelor's STEM$41,271$58,413$71,32637,1045.457%$34,085
Master's$51,204$61,154$66,7458,254n/a44%$39,366
Bachelor's$35,601$53,129$65,75823,2005.357%$35,442
Associate's STEM$48,753$56,804$62,5816,0055.232%$14,713
Associate's$34,190$45,707$52,60810,5904.430%$19,588
Certificate$31,905$41,357$46,8615,8002.915%$11,705
Certificate STEM$35,314$42,158$46,2585,1673.525%$11,479
Marketable skills award$31,958$37,925$40,1204643.54%$14,595
Marketable skills award STEM$25,471$30,280$34,2502963.611%$12,642

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.48

Notes: All financial data reported in 2012 dollars.

Data reflect earnings, educational attainment and student debt for a 2002 cohort of Texas public graduates from state universities, state two-year institutions and state health-related institutions.

STEM degrees were identified based on a list of majors provided by the Texas Workforce Commission. The list includes areas of study such as computer science, medicine, chemistry, industrial engineering and statistics, among others.


Some entities have begun making salary information available to students in the form of online tools.

  • In January of 2014, the UT System launched a web tool containing earnings information of recent graduates from various degree programs.
  • In Spring 2014, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) launched an online tool, Texas Consumer Resource for Education and Workforce Statistics (Texas CREWS), incorporating both college cost and salary information.

See our recommendation on the availability of salary information.

Earnings for Most Popular Majors

Average loan balances and earnings (both in the first year after graduation and in the tenth) vary widely across the 10 most popular majors in the 2002 cohort of graduates.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.49

Among the most common bachelor's majors at Texas public universities, four out of the five generating the highest average wages after 10 years are in business fields:

  • finance and financial management services — $95,920
  • biology (general) — $81,484
  • management information systems and services — $80,176
  • marketing — $78,133
  • accounting and related services — $76,236

Innovative Delivery Models

New delivery models such as competency-based courses – which give college credit based on demonstration of knowledge on a given set of content – are one growing trend that could help to drive down tuition costs. However, Texas' current higher education funding mechanisms may be impeding innovation in this area.

See our recommendation on innovative education delivery models.

Read More >>

  • Funding for Texas' public higher education institutions is largely based on enrollment and course time; the Instruction and Operations Formula, for example, uses semester credit hours to determine the level of funding a university receives.
  • Currently, there is no process in place that would allow higher education institutions to seek formula funding for competency-based courses, since completion for such courses is typically measured by successfully passing an assessment rather than semester credit hours completed.
  • Likewise, other innovative delivery models such as credit by exam and correspondence courses do not generate semester credit hours, making it difficult for institutions to seek funding for these types of courses.
  • One example of competency-based funding is Western Governors University (WGU), a unique, 100 percent online institution of higher education serving more than 50,000 students across the country. Formed by the governors of 19 states in 1995, WGU is competency-based and offers students more flexibility – and affordability – than most traditional programs.50
    • For example, rather than following a strict semester or trimester schedule, WGU offers classes to cohorts beginning on the first day of every month.
    • Additionally, WGU offers flat-rate tuition for six-month terms – meaning that if students work hard, they can maximize their tuition dollars and ultimately save money by shortening their time to degree.
    • WGU-Texas provides intensive, individualized support to students through faculty mentors and technological tools that connect students to one another, such as course chatrooms and streaming communities.51
  • Existing competency-based models rely on grant funding. In spring 2014, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board partnered with South Texas College and Texas A&M University-Commerce to offer a new competency-based program, the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program, using grants from Next Generation Learning Challenges, an organization that supports educational innovation.
  • Some new legislation does provide incentives for competency-based courses. The 2013 Legislature's S.B. 441 created the Fast Start Program, which provides grants to public two- and four-year institutions to develop and expand competency-based models.
  • Another newly created program, the Texas Workforce Innovation Needs Program, encourages school districts and public institutions of higher education to incorporate competency-based learning and to offer dual credit for career and technical courses.

MOOCs

One possible answer to spiraling college costs: massive open online courses (MOOCs), a form of distance education that can accommodate large numbers of students.

MOOCs allow for student interaction through online user forums and often use a combination of reading, video and interactive coursework to allow students to digest information in different formats.

A number of universities have begun partnering to offer MOOCs.

In May 2012, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created the nonprofit site EdX, through which more than 30 universities now offer courses in business, science, engineering and other subjects.

A company called Coursera, founded by Stanford University professors in 2012, now has more than 100 partner universities offering coursework.

Udacity, a private company founded in January 2012, specializes in online math, science and technology courses. The company recently announced that it would focus on corporate education after a pilot program at San Jose State University yielded disappointing results.

Today, MOOCs are generally free and open to the public. Most, however, do not offer credit for completion — and the issue of how to grant credit for such courses is a significant challenge.

But some schools have begun offering credit for successful completion of MOOCs. In spring 2014, for instance, Georgia Tech began offering its first online master's program using MOOC technology, in partnership with Udacity. During that first semester, MOOC-based students slightly outperformed their traditional peers, and in general expressed a high level of satisfaction with the program.52

Another new concept in distance learning called synchronous massive online courses (SMOCs) could also help to mitigate rising tuition costs. As with MOOCs, SMOCs use online technology to educate larger groups of students. Unlike MOOCs, however, SMOCs are taught live, allowing students to interact with both the professor and one another in real time.

Learn More about MOOCS/SMOCS:

Due to upfront development costs, tuition rates for many online courses are higher than those for traditional courses.53 Some universities, however, are beginning to offer MOOC and SMOC tuition rates that are lower than their in-person equivalents. UT Austin's SMOC, for example, is cheaper than the university's in-person courses.

During the first semester the Introduction to Psychology SMOC was offered at UT-Austin, online-only students paid about 73% less in course tuition than students taking the traditional course.

Source: Inside Higher Ed.54

Note: Rates above are fall 2013 costs for UT-Austin's Psychology SMOC and traditional three-credit-hour courses in the College of Liberal Arts. Other SMOC and traditional course costs may differ from those shown.

MOOCs are still controversial. Early research shows that the lack of classroom interaction can leave some students feeling isolated, affecting their performance and their will to complete the course.

  • A recent Columbia University study found that 32 percent of students sampled in one state either failed or withdrew from for-credit online courses, compared with 19 percent for equivalent in-person courses; in another state, these shares were 18 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
  • Some institutions are making their online courses more interactive by teaching them live. See our video on MOOCs and SMOCs to learn more.
Students are much more likely to fail or withdraw from online classes than from in-person classes in both southern and western states.

Sources: Community College Research Center, Columbia University.55

Transfers and Supplemental Credits

Another opportunity to reduce college costs involves beginning a degree at a community college and transferring to a four-year institution to complete it. Many students pursuing four-year degrees choose to earn at least some of their hours at less-costly community colleges.   

  • In fall 2013, 36 percent of all Texas public college and university graduates had completed 30 or more semester hours at a two-year college before transferring.
  • Another 40 percent had completed between one and 29 hours at a two-year college.
Based on Fall 2013 data, more than three-quarters of all Texas public college and university graduates had transferred at least some course credit from community college.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.56

Students also can get a head start on their four-year degree through advanced placement (AP) exams and credit by examination.

  • AP exam participation in Texas more than doubled in the past decade: 207,321 high school students took exams in fall 2012, compared to 90,880 students in fall 2003. 57
  • About 71 percent of high school graduates took an AP exam in fall 2012, compared with only 28 percent in fall 2003.58
  1. The Texas Legislature should ask the state's Congressional delegation to introduce legislation that would harmonize disclosure requirements for federal and non-federal student loans.

    Federal loan disclosure requirements are currently more lenient than those for private lenders, not explicitly requiring that students see examples of total cost over the life of the loan.


    New federal legislation should ensure that federal loan requirements include the same disclosures as private requirements. In addition to the principal amount being borrowed, information presented to student borrowers should include:

    • the potential range of interest rates;
    • examples of the total cost of the loan over its life, at both current and potential interest rates;
    • any fees or range of fees applicable to the loan; and
    • any potential finance charges, late fees, penalties or adjustments to principal to be levied upon default or late payment.

  2. The Texas Legislature should improve the availability of net price calculators published by the state's colleges and universities.


    Net price calculators are intended to help students estimate the costs of a degree, but often they are difficult to find and use. Current state requirements for university net price calculators should be modified to ensure that they:

    • are prominently placed in tuition cost or financial aid sections of the website; and
    • require only reasonable time and effort to use. This could be achieved by limiting the number of questions students must answer, and by omitting questions that require searches through financial records.

  3. The Texas Legislature should require public colleges and universities to develop performance measures for student services and academic support activities that compare the benefits of these activities to their costs.

    Current measures for these activities track spending but do not evaluate their benefits. Newly developed measures should weigh the returns from student services and academic support programs against their costs. These measures should be reported to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

  4. The Texas Legislature should improve the availability of potential salary information by degree and area of study.

    In addition to information on attendance costs, universities should be required to publish information on what salaries students can expect to earn after graduation.


    The Texas Legislature should require universities to publish this information on their websites or to provide a link to THECB's newly created salary web tool, Texas Consumer Resource for Education and Workforce Statistics (Texas CREWS), that became available in Spring 2014.

  5. The Texas Legislature should create funding rules that apply to competency-based courses and other innovative education delivery models.

    The existing higher education funding process does not provide a defined framework for delivery methods not based on semester credit hours to receive formula funding. Because the formulas are based on credit hours, they do not account for competency-based courses, for example, the completion of which is often measured by assessment rather than hours.

    The Legislature should adapt current formula funding rules to provide funding for these types of courses based on course completion rather than semester credit hours.

College Cost Resources

College for All Texans (THECB)

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's College for All Texans website provides parents and future students with tips for controlling college costs, choosing among financial aid options and making a college-readiness plan beginning as early as middle school.

College Affordability and Transparency Center
(U.S. Department of Education)

Collegecost.ed.gov is a one-stop shop where parents and students can compare colleges, find colleges' net price calculators, search for college scorecards, and discover information about how fast college costs are going up and why the costs are going up.

Paying for College (CFPB)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers an online tool that allows students to compare financial aid offers, provides them with steps on how to get the right loan, offers advice on how to manage college money, and walks students through how to pay off their student loans as efficiently as possible.

Adventures in Education

The Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation offers online tools that allow students to compare salaries based on different schools and majors and also provides helpful advice about planning for college, paying for college, finding a career and managing your money.

College Measures Economic Success Program Tool

Created by the American Institutes for Research, this online tool provides information about the earnings of graduates based on the school attended.

Compare College TX (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board)

Compare College TX is an interactive website for parents, students, and high school advisors aimed at answering questions that matter most to prospective students like: how much will this college cost, what percentage of students does this college accept and how likely will I graduate on time from this college?

In Spring 2014, the THECB also launched an online tool, Texas Consumer Resource for Education (Texas CREWS), incorporating both college cost and salary information.

Texas Tuition Promise Fund

Start saving for college now by using the Comptroller's Texas Tuition Promise Fund (TTPF). The TTPF allows families to start saving for college early by purchasing Tuition Units that can be exchanged later for a fixed amount of undergraduate tuition and fees.

Every Chance Every Texan

Tools and resources for college and career readiness, targeted to parents and grandparents, students, counselors, employers, and financial professionals. Provided to Texans through the office of the Comptroller, Every Chance Every Texan can serve as a one-stop hub for critical college and career information.

Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation
– Compendium of Texas Colleges and Financial Aid Calendar

Contains a list of Texas colleges and universities in the State of Texas, admission requirements, total expenses for an academic year, financial aid data and related information, helpful hints to the college bound and a calendar of various scholarship deadlines arranged by month.

Match the Promise

Encourages families to save for college by offering matching scholarships and tuition grants to participants in the Texas Tuition Promise Fund,® the state's prepaid college tuition plan.

seekUT (University of Texas System)

In January of 2014, the UT System launched a web tool containing earnings information of recent graduates from various degree programs.

Understand Truth in Lending

Learn more about the Truth In Lending Act and how it can affect your loans.

Resources About the Debt Your College Carries

Your Money and Education Debt (Comptroller)

Explore our October 2012 "Texas, It's Your Money" report, Your Money and Education Debt, to learn how community colleges and other public providers of higher education in Texas have built and renovated facilities and added enrollment while more than tripling their outstanding debt.

Community College Debt (Comptroller)

Explore community college debt by looking at a map of outstanding Texas community and junior college debt.

Public University and College Debt (Comptroller)

Explore public university and college debt by looking at a map of outstanding Texas public university and college debt.

Loan Repayment Resources

National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS)

Aren't sure how much or what kind of student loans you have? Visit the NSLDS to track your federal loans and grants. The NSLDS is the U.S. Department of Education's central database for student aid.

Repayment Estimator (Federal Student Aid)

The repayment estimator allows you to understand which repayment plans you may be eligible for and see estimates for how much you would pay monthly and overall under each plan for your federal loans.

Repayment Plans (Federal Student Aid)

Understand the various repayment plans and choose the right plan for you by exploring the information provided by Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education.

The CFPB Ombudsman

The CFPB Ombudsman's Office is an independent, impartial, confidential and free resource to help students resolve process issues from CFPB activities.

Consumer Sample Letter for Overpayment Process (CFPB)

Unless you provide instructions, your student loan servicer will generally decide how to allocate any payments you make in excess of your amount due. The CFPB has published a sample letter borrowers can send to their servicer instructing them how to apply overpayments on student loans. This tool can help borrowers optimize their student loan repayments.

Debt Management Tools (American Student Assistance)

Successfully manage your education debt using the budget worksheet, budget calculator, student loan portfolio, debt/salary wizard, student loan repayment checklist and many other tools provided by American Student Assistance.

Overview:

  1. U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/incpovhlth/2012/. Custom query created.
  2. U.S. Department of Education, Table 330.10, Average undergraduate tuition and fees and room and board rates charged for full-time students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level and control of institution: 1963-64 through 2012-13, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_330.10.asp; CPI obtained from Bureau of Labor Statistics; Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
  3. Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax, Data on student borrowing by state available via excel file under "2013 Q1" at http://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/data.html, Table 2 from the Excel file was used for calculations; CPI obtained from Bureau of Labor Statistics; Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Section 1: Climbing Debt

  1. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, "Student Debt Overview," by Meta Brown, August 14, 2013, slide 15. URL:  http://www.newyorkfed.org/regional/Brown_presentation_GWU_2013Q2.pdf. Last accessed 13 November 2014.
  2. U.S. Department of Education – Federal Student Aid. "Three-year Official Cohort Default Rates for Schools," September 2014. URL: http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/defaultmanagement/cdr.html#table.   
  3. American Institute of CPAs, "New AICPA Survey Reveals Effects, Regrets of Student Loan Debt," http://www.aicpa.org/press/pressreleases/2013/pages/aicpa-survey-reveals-effects-regrets-student-loan-debt.aspx.
  4. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, The Quarterly Report on Household Debt & Credit report data for Q4 of 2013 is available via Excel file at http://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/data.html, "Page 3 data" tab from the 2013 Q4 Excel file was used.
  5. Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax, Data on student borrowing by state available via excel file under "2013 Q1" at http://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/data.html, Table 2 from the Excel file was used for calculations; CPI obtained from Bureau of Labor Statistics; Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
  6. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
  7. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2013). "A closer look at the trillion." URL: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/a-closer-look-at-the-trillion/ Last accessed 13 November 2014.
  8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, "Student Debt Overview," by Meta Brown, August 14, 2013, slide 15. URL:  http://www.newyorkfed.org/regional/Brown_presentation_GWU_2013Q2.pdf. Last accessed 13 November 2014.
  9. Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax, Data on student borrowing by state available via excel file under "2013 Q1" at http://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/data.html, Table 3 from the Excel file was used.
  10. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2013). "A closer look at the trillion." URL: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/a-closer-look-at-the-trillion/ Last accessed 13 November 2014.
  11. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. "Federal Student Loan Debt Burden of Noncompleters," by Christina Chang Wei and Laura Horn (Washington D.C., April 2013), pp. 5, 7. URL: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED541249.pdf.
  12. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. "Federal Student Loan Debt Burden of Noncompleters," by Christina Chang Wei and Laura Horn (Washington D.C., April 2013), pp. 5, 7. URL: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED541249.pdf.
  13. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Federal Student Loan Debt Burden of Noncompleters, by Christina Chang Wei and Laura Horn (Washington D.C., April 2013), pp. 5, 7, http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED541249.pdf
  14. Jacob P. K. Gross, Osman Cekic, Don Hossler, and Nick Hillman, "What Matters in Student Loan Default: A Review of the Research Literature," p. 23-26, http://www.nasfaa.org/research/Journal/subs/What_Matters_in_Student_Loan_Default__A_Review_of_the_Research_Literature.aspx.
  15. U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Stability Oversight Council. "2013 Annual Report" (Washington D.C., 2013), p. 29. URL: http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/fsoc/Documents/FSOC%202013%20Annual%20Report.pdf Last accessed 13 November 2014.
  16. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Student Loan Affordability: Analysis of Public Input on Impact and Solutions" (Washington D.C., May 2013), p. 8. URL: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201305_cfpb_rfi-report_student-loans.pdf.
  17. United States Congress Joint Economic Committee. "The Causes and Consequences of Increasing Student Debt" (Washington, D.C., June 2013), p. 1. URL: http://www.jec.senate.gov/public/?a=Files.Serve&File_id=d7937b2f-e01c-4721-8b8b-09f5776725a1.
  18. United States Congress Joint Economic Committee. "The Causes and Consequences of Increasing Student Debt" (Washington, D.C., June 2013), p. 8. URL: http://www.jec.senate.gov/public/?a=Files.Serve&File_id=d7937b2f-e01c-4721-8b8b-09f5776725a1.
  19. American Institute of CPAs, "New AICPA Survey Reveals Effects, Regrets of Student Loan Debt," http://www.aicpa.org/press/pressreleases/2013/pages/aicpa-survey-reveals-effects-regrets-student-loan-debt.aspx.
  20. U.S. Department of Education, National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), Direct Loan Portfolio by Repayment Plan; data retrieved from https://studentaid.ed.gov/about/data-center/student/portfolio.
  21. U.S. Department of Education, National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), Direct Loan Portfolio by Repayment Plan; data retrieved from https://studentaid.ed.gov/about/data-center/student/portfolio.
  22. Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings. "Student Loan Safety Nets: Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Income-Based Repayment," by Beth Akers and Matthew Chingos (Washington, D.C., April 2014), p. 1. URL: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2014/04/14%20student%20safety%20nets/ibr_online.pdf.  

Section 2: Skyrocketing Costs

  1. U.S. Census Bureau (2013). State Median Income – Table H08, "Median Household Income by State: 1984-2012," http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/statemedian/. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (2013) and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. "Sources & Uses History – All University Institutions for the Year Ending August 31." Excel spreadsheet obtained via communication with Ed Buchanan, Program Director – Finance and Resource Planning, 30 October 2013. Price indices were obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. American Institutes for Research, Delta Cost Project Database, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/deltacostproject/, and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Calculations for enrollment-weighted, inflation-adjusted tuition & fees created from matched dataset for 1990-2010.
  3. American Institutes for Research, Delta Cost Project Database, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/deltacostproject/, and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Calculations for enrollment-weighted, inflation-adjusted tuition & fees created from matched dataset for 1990-2010.
  4. The College Board, 2013 Annual Survey of Colleges, Table 2A, 2B and Table 5.
  5. The College Board. "Trends in College Pricing 2013," Figure 11, page 21. URL: http://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/college-pricing-2013-full-report.pdf
  6. The College Board, 2013 Annual Survey of Colleges, Table 2A and 2B.
  7. The College Board, 2013 Annual Survey of Colleges, Table 5.
  8. Institute for College Access and Success, "Adding It All Up 2012: Are College Net Price Calculators Easy to Find, Use and Compare?" http://www.ticas.org/files/pub/Adding_It_All_Up_2012.pdf, pp. 2-3, 5, 7.
  9. Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
  10. American Institutes for Research, Delta Cost Project Database, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/deltacostproject/, and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Calculations for administrative cost ratios created from matched dataset for 1990-2010.
  11. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (2013) and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. "Sources & Uses History – All University Institutions for the Year Ending August 31." Excel spreadsheet obtained via communication with Ed Buchanan, Program Director – Finance and Resource Planning, 30 October 2013. Data were adjusted for inflation in 2013 dollars. Last accessed 15 January 2014.
  12. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (2013) and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. "Sources & Uses History – All University Institutions for the Year Ending August 31." Excel spreadsheet obtained via communication with Ed Buchanan, Program Director – Finance and Resource Planning, 30 October 2013. Data were adjusted for inflation in 2013 dollars. Last accessed 15 January 2014.
  13. American Institutes for Research, Delta Cost Project Database, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/deltacostproject/, and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Calculations for revenue sources created from matched dataset for 1990-2010.
  14. American Institutes for Research, Delta Cost Project Database, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/deltacostproject/, and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Calculations for revenue sources created from matched dataset for 1990-2010.
  15. College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey, 2007-08 and 2013-14. URL: http://www.cupahr.org/surveys/ahe.aspx.
  16. College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey, 2007-08 and 2013-14. URL: http://www.cupahr.org/surveys/ahe.aspx.
  17. American Institutes for Research, Delta Cost Project Database, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/deltacostproject/, and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Calculations for revenue sources created from matched dataset for 1990-2010.
  18. American Institutes for Research, Delta Cost Project Database, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/deltacostproject/, and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Calculations for revenue sources created from matched dataset for 1990-2010.
  19. Legislative Budget Board (2013). "Financing Higher Education in Texas: Legislative Primer." URL: http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Higher_Education/690_Higher_Education_Finance.pdf Last accessed 6 November 2013. The University of Texas System Office of Public Affairs. "Regents approve plan to provide more support to campus presidents and keep student tuition flat." URL: http://www.utsystem.edu/news/2014/08/22/regents-approve-plan-provide-more-support-campus-presidents-and-keep-student-tuition Last accessed 13 October 2014.

Section 3: Return on Investment

  1. National Center for Education Statistics 2013 Digest Table 304.10. URL: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_304.10.asp Last accessed 30 October 2014.
  2. Texas Comptroller analysis based on data from U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/incpovhlth/2012/index.html. Custom queries created.
  3. Texas Comptroller analysis of dataset obtained in communication with Gabriela Borcoman, MD, Ph.D., Senior Program Director of Planning at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in the Planning and Accountability division.
  4. Texas Comptroller analysis of dataset obtained in communication with Gabriela Borcoman, MD, Ph.D., Senior Program Director of Planning at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in the Planning and Accountability division. STEM degrees were identified based on a list of majors provided by the Texas Workforce Commission that includes areas of study such as computer science, medicine, chemistry, industrial engineering and statistics, among others.
  5. Texas Comptroller analysis of dataset obtained in communication with Gabriela Borcoman, MD, Ph.D., Senior Program Director of Planning at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in the Planning and Accountability division.

Section 4: Cost Saving Opportunities

  1. Western Governors University. "How We're Different." URL: http://www.wgu.edu/about_WGU/WGU_different
  2. Western Governors University – Texas. "About WGU Texas," "About Our Students." URL: http://texas.wgu.edu/about_wgu_texas/overview
  3. Inside Higher Education. "One semester in, students satisfied with unfinished Georgia Tech online degree program," by Carl Straumshein, June 6, 2014. URL: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/06/06/one-semester-students-satisfied-unfinished-georgia-tech-online-degree-program.
  4. U.S. News, "U.S. News Data: Online Education Isn't Always Cheap," http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2013/08/28/us-news-data-online-education-isnt-always-cheap; American Association of State Colleges and Universities, "Online Learning at Public Universities: Building a New Path to a College Degree," http://www.fgcu.edu/ACS/Files/2013_10_AASCU-Online_Learning_at_Public_Universities-Report_Final1.pdf, p. 18.
  5. Inside Higher Ed, "Don't Call It a MOOC," August 27, 2013; https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/08/27/ut-austin-psychology-professors-prepare-worlds-first-synchronous-massive-online.
  6. Community College Research Center, Columbia University, "What We Know About Online Course Outcomes," http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/publications/what-we-know-online-course-outcomes.html, p. 2.
  7. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Higher Education Accountability System; http://www.txhighereddata.org/Interactive/Accountability/. Custom query created.
  8. The College Board. "Annual AP Program Participation for the State of Texas," 2013. URL: http://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data/archived/2013.
  9. The College Board. "Annual AP Program Participation for the State of Texas," 2013. URL: http://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data/archived/2013. Annual high school graduation data downloaded from Texas Education Agency website.

Report published: Dec. 9, 2014

Student services and academic support were the fastest-growing operational spending categories at Texas public universities from fiscal 1994 to 2013.

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Note: Decrease in spending on capital outlay from current fund sources may be partially due to data collection system change in 2003. ×

Individuals with a college degree earn about twice what someone with only a high school degree earns.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
Based on a survey by the American Institute of CPAs, student debt burdens have caused many borrowers to make significant personal or financial sacrifices.

Source: American Institute of CPAs.

×
Average loan balances and earnings (both in the first year after graduation and in the tenth) vary widely across the 10 most popular majors in the 2002 cohort of graduates.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
About 60 percent of student debt holders surveyed by the American Institute of CPAs expressed regret about their choice to finance their education with loans.

Source: American Institute of CPAs.

×
Student loan debt outpaced inflation both in the United States and in Texas from 2004 to 2012.

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
Tuition and fees at Texas public universities have increased far faster than inflation, median household income, healthcare prices, and housing prices.

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
Texas public universities vary in terms of how they post their net price calculators for students and families to use.

Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
Texas tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year were about 4 percent below the U.S. average and lower than those in both Illinois and California.

Source: Delta Cost Project, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
Overall, the distribution of operating use spending across categories remained fairly consistent at Texas public universities from fiscal 1994 to 2013.

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
The sources of Texas public university revenue per FTSE changed substantially from 1990 to 2010, with the share of state & local appropriations dropping while the share of net tuition rose.

Sources: Delta Cost Project, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
The average student loan burden among those who did not complete their degree is substantial at all institution types.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics.

×
Participation in income-based repayment plans -- and student loan balances covered by them -- has soared in the past year alone.

Source: U.S. Department of Education.

×
Average student debt grew at nearly three times the rate of inflation from 2004 to 2012.

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
Tuition and fees have greatly outpaced inflation at both public and private higher education institutions.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
Based on Fall 2013 data, more than three-quarters of all Texas public college and university graduates had transferred at least some course credit from community college.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

×
In terms of sticker price, private colleges and universities tend to be between three and four times more expensive than public institutions, both nationwide and in Texas.

Source: The College Board.

×
During the first semester the Introduction to Psychology SMOC was offered at UT-Austin, online-only students paid about 73% less in course tuition than students taking the traditional course.

Source: Inside Higher Ed.

×
Adjusted for inflation, tuition and fees grew more substantially at public two- and four-year institutions than private nonprofit institutions nationwide from 2004 to 2014.

Sources: The College Board.

×
Contrasting with the national trend, in Texas, tuition and fees grew more significantly at private nonprofit institutions than public two- and four-year institutions from 2004 to 2014.

Sources: The College Board.

×
From 2003 to 2013, student loans outpaced all other forms of non-mortgage debt.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Note: Mortgage debt excluded from graphic due to scale. Data prior to 2003 were unavailable.

×
The share of borrowers more than 90 days delinquent on their student loans has grown in the U.S. and its most populous states.

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax.

Note: The uptick in delinquency rates seen in 2012 can be partially explained by delayed reporting of previously defaulted student loan debt during 2012 Q3.

×
The number of Texas public university employees per full-time student equivalent classified as Other Professional increased the most among all categories from 1990 to 2010.

Sources: Delta Cost Project, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

×
Students are much more likely to fail or withdraw from online classes than from in-person classes in both southern and western states.

Sources: Community College Research Center, Columbia University.

×

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.47

Notes: All financial data reported in 2012 dollars. Data reflect a 2002 cohort of Texas higher education graduates.

×

Sources: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.48

Notes: All financial data reported in 2012 dollars.

Data reflect earnings, educational attainment and student debt for a 2002 cohort of Texas public graduates from state universities, state two-year institutions and state health-related institutions.

STEM degrees were identified based on a list of majors provided by the Texas Workforce Commission. The list includes areas of study such as computer science, medicine, chemistry, industrial engineering and statistics, among others.

×