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How does college tuition in Texas compare to other states?

In a previous post, John left the following comment:

Out of curiosity how much does a year at UT/A&M cost? How does that compare to Ohio St/Michigan/Cal/UVA/Washington etc. I would think this is a good time to do the revenue side and charge more for tuition if UT is still fairly inexpensive relative to other state schools.

I thought that was a fair question, so I decided to take a look into it. Let’s start by seeing how much one semester’s worth of tuition is at the University of Texas and at Texas A&M. First, for UT:

The tuition charged is in part dependent on the amount of state support received by the institution. In the early 1970s the state paid for nearly 85 percent of the cost of running the educational side of The University of Texas at Austin. Today, the state-appropriated fraction of the total budget for UT Austin is below 20 percent. The growing gap between what it costs to run the university and what the state is able to contribute has been covered in part by private donations, efficiency and other actions taken by the university. However, if the university is to maintain delivery of the quality of education for which it has become known, it determined it had to ask the students attending the university to pay for an increasing share of that gap. The University of Texas at Austin’s tuition places it well below tuition at comparable universities, and the university continues to be a nationally recognized great value in higher education.

If you look at that page, you will see that one semester tuition, for a resident student ranges from $4,493 for the Liberal Arts college to $5,163 for the Business program. Next, there’s A&M:

The cost of attending Texas A&M University can vary, depending on a student’s classification, residency status, personal needs and spending habits. Where the course is taught will also affect cost. Below are estimates to provide a reasonable idea of what it will cost to take a course or courses. The most current rates and information available at the time of publishing are used, and are subject to change.

You then have to look here for the current year. As with UT, there’s a range of tuition costs, for one semester tuition, 12-18 credit hours, from $4,193 for non-business programs to $4,803 for business.

So how do they stack up against peer institutions? To answer that question, I looked at two different groups of peers – a selection of public schools from the Association of American Universities, of which UT is a member, and the non-Texas schools that currently comprise the Big XII. Note that there is some overlap between the two – the University of Colorado, for example, is a member of both. A few words about my methodology before we begin:

– I only looked at tuition, for one semester. Some schools print tuition rates for the nine month (i.e., fall through spring) academic year – I simply divided that by two and rounded up to the next dollar for simplicity. Some present rates per credit hour – in those cases, I assumed 15 credit hours for a semester.

– I only used resident tuition rates. In all cases, non-resident tuition was between double and triple the non-resident rate. Since residents’ taxes support the public universities, that seems fair enough.

– All other costs – room and board, books, various fees – were left out of this calculation. For what it’s worth, my eyeball estimate of room and board was that it pretty consistently fell into the $7,500 to $10,000 range for the year. I didn’t bother looking at anything else. Note that for UC-Berkeley, tuition is called a fee, for reasons that escape me.

– Some schools have one flat rate, others have different rates for different programs, as UT and A&M do. In those cases, I reported the range as above. Generally speaking, programs like liberal arts, fine arts, journalism, and nursing fell on the lower end, and programs like business, engineering, architecture, and computer science fell on the higher end.

– Some schools charge more for upperclassmen than they do for freshmen and sophomores. In those cases, I reported the frosh/soph rates.

I think that about covers it. So without further ado, here are some AAU schools:

The University of Michigan

One semester tuition: Ranges from $5,824 to $8,087, depending on the program.

The University of Virginia

One semester tuition: $5,418 (Note: Page lists full year tuition costs.)

The Ohio State University

One semester tuition: $4,760 (Note: Page lists full year tuition costs.)

The University of North Carolina

One semester tuition: $3,182 (Note: Page lists full year tuition costs.)

The University of California at Berkeley

One semester tuition: $5,469 (Note: Page lists full year tuition costs, which is for some reason labeled “Fees”.)

For what it’s worth, in Googling Cal’s tuition, I came across this NYT story from March of 2010 that calls Call “still a bargain” and notes that its annual tuition had gone up quite a bit, from about $7700 to over $10K, in recent years due to budget shortfalls.

The State University of New York

One semester tuition: $2,485 (Note: Page lists full year tuition costs.)

There are many SUNY campuses, some of which are AAU members and some of which are not. I simply Googled “SUNY tuition”, I did not specify a campus. Far as I can tell, it’s uniform across the system.

The University of Indiana

One semester tuition: $4,062 (Spring 2011)

Michigan State University

One semester tuition: $5,861 (Note: Page lists full year tuition costs.)

The University of Florida

One semester tuition: $2,510

The University of Washington

One semester tuition: $4,351

Putting this group into a chart for easy reading, using the lowest rates from the schools that had ranges:

School Tuition ======================== SUNY $2,485 Florida $2,510 North Carolina $3,182 Indiana $4,062 A&M $4,193 Washington $4,351 UT $4,493 Ohio State $4,760 Virginia $5,418 Cal-Berkeley $5,469 Michigan $5,824

Pretty much in the middle, as things stand now – in fact, A&M is just about smack-dab in between SUNY and Michigan. Bear in mind that this is before any tuition increases, which could be as much as $1,000 for a year, or $500 for a semester.

Now on to the Big XII schools:

The University of Oklahoma

One semester tuition: $3,927 (Note: Page lists full year tuition costs.)

Oklahoma State University

One semester tuition: $2,051 (Calculated as 15 hours of Undergraduate Tuition.)

The University of Nebraska

One semester tuition: $3,656 (Note: Page lists full year tuition costs.)

The University of Missouri

One semester tuition: $3,684 (Calculated as 15 hours of Undergraduate Tuition.)

The University of Kansas

One semester tuition: $3,937

Kansas State University

One semester tuition: $3,114

The University of Colorado

One semester tuition ranges from $3,509 to $5,610, depending on the program.

Iowa State University

One semester tuition: $3,326 (Note: Page lists full year tuition costs.)

Now let’s update that chart:

School Tuition ======================== Oklahoma State $2,051 SUNY $2,485 Florida $2,510 Kansas State $3,114 North Carolina $3,182 Iowa State $3,326 Colorado $3,509 Nebraska $3,656 Missouri $3,684 Oklahoma $3,927 Kansas $3,937 Indiana $4,062 A&M $4,193 Washington $4,351 UT $4,493 Ohio State $4,760 Virginia $5,418 Cal-Berkeley $5,469 Michigan $5,824

Compared to their athletic peers, UT and A&M are already the two most expensive schools, and they’re about to become more so.

So there you have it. I don’t know if this changes anyone’s mind, but at least now you have a basis for comparison.

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  1. I graduated from U.T. when it was much less expensive. The state has been lowering the percentage of support for higher education and public education since Republicans have been a major factor in Texas Politics. The trend has to stop some where or there will be fewer and fewer students able to get a college education. At least U.T. and Texas A & M are in the middle of the list and not the most expensive.

  2. Mark says:

    Beyond tuition, is there data comparing how many students graduate in 4 years at UT/A&M versus similar state schools across the country? I ask because based solely on anecdotes, I know very few people who attended state schools in the Midwest that had trouble finishing their degree in 4 years without taking summer courses, but since I moved down here, I’ve talked to far fewer people for whom the same is true at UT, at least, citing difficulty getting into classes and meeting graduation requirements. This would also seem like an important factor in determining school quality, and something that would get worse with budget cuts and increasing enrollment.

  3. John says:

    Very interesting analysis, just doing some basic math. If UT has 50,000 students and you raise tuition $500 a semester. Suddenly you have increased the revenue side of the equation and cut in the half the reduction in money from the legislature.

    UT/A&M are still MUCH cheaper than private alternatives in the state. I think a tuition hike might not be a bad idea. Plus I think $500 is not enough to prevent people from attending either school, not to mention they are incredibly difficult to get into as is