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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

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If you’re a student at the University of Texas at Austin, you may have heard about the Longhorn Fixed Tuition program. This program guarantees that your tuition rate will stay the same for four years, regardless of any future increases. But is it worth it? Let’s take a closer look.

In recent years, the cost of attending UT Austin has been steadily increasing. From 2002 to 2012, the cost of attending 2 semesters of class as a full-time student rose from $5,308 to $9,696, an increase of 83%. From 2012 to 2022, the cost of tuition increased by 21%, from $9,696 to $11,766 per year. These numbers are for the College of Natural Sciences but the tuition increases for other colleges are similar with slight variances (let’s shed a tear for McCombs students) so I will be using these as a benchmark. Out-of-state students saw an even greater increase, with tuition and fees rising from $11,412 in 2002 to (oddly enough) $11,026 in 2012 and $40,884 in 2022. The overall cost of attendance appears to have risen 2x for in-state and 4x for out-of-state students in the past two decades.

With these rising costs, fixed tuition can be a way to protect yourself from future increases. By opting for fixed tuition, you’ll know exactly how much you’ll be paying for the next four years, regardless of any future tuition increases. This can be a huge relief for students and their families who are trying to budget for college expenses.

However, fixed tuition rates are often higher than standard tuition rates. For example, for the 2022-2023 academic year, the fixed tuition rate for in-state students was $13,734, compared to the standard rate of $11,766. For out-of-state students, the fixed tuition rate was $46,662, compared to the standard rate of $40,884. This means that you’ll be paying roughly 16% more for in-state and 14% more for out-of-state if you choose to pay upfront.

It’s also important to note that fixed tuition rates only apply to tuition, not to other fees and expenses. According to UT Austin’s website, “Fixed tuition applies only to the base tuition rate for fall and spring semesters. It does not cover fees or other expenses such as housing, meals, books, or transportation.” This means that even if you opt for fixed tuition, you may still see increases in other expenses, such as housing and meal plans.

These percentages are only calculable for your first year of attendance. Fixed-rate tuition is only worth it if you believe tuition in your later years would be more expensive than the fixed rate by a larger margin than which fixed great was more expensive than flat tuition during your early years.

Another potential drawback of fixed tuition is that it offers less flexibility than standard tuition rates. Fixed tuition rates only apply for four years. If you’re planning on taking longer than or shorter than four years to complete your degree, fixed tuition may not be the best option for you. If you graduate early, then you won’t have the benefit of time to make fixed tuition worth it. If you take more time to graduate, then fixed tuition will not be applicable to further semesters. Additionally, if you’re planning to study abroad or take a semester off, you may not be able to take advantage of the fixed tuition rate.

It’s worth noting that the University of Texas at Austin has historically been mindful of tuition increases and has even frozen tuition rates in the past. For example, during the 2008 financial crisis, the university chose to freeze tuition rates for two years to help students and their families manage the economic downturn. While the Longhorn Fixed Tuition program can be a good option for students who want more predictability in their college expenses, it’s important to remember that the university may choose to not raise tuition or to raise it by smaller increments. This means that the actual cost of attendance may not increase as much as some students and families anticipate.

Despite these potential drawbacks, fixed tuition can still be a smart choice for many students. By opting for fixed tuition, you’re protecting yourself from future tuition increases, which can save you thousands of dollars over the course of your college career. Ultimately, it’s important to consider all of your options and do your research before making a decision about the Longhorn Fixed Tuition program or any other financial decisions related to college. By carefully weighing the pros and cons and staying informed about changes to tuition rates and other expenses, you can make the best decision for your individual circumstances and goals.

Vanna Chen

Texas '23

Senior Computer Science Major Sleepy, Funny, Addicted to Kombucha