What’s best for the students is all that counts

Mike Linn

Good ole Texas is whipping us at its own game.
And for once, we’re not talking about football and red meat. This is about higher education. Texas offers special deals for its border-state neighbors who want to attend Texas universities.
It’s called in-state and reduced tuition.
While colleges like New Mexico State University and Eastern New Mexico University offer in-state tuition ($74 per credit hour) for students living in Texas within 135 miles of the university, that may be changing in the near future.
Texas Tech University offers in-state tuition for students from New Mexico counties bordering Texas ($92 per credit hour) and reduced tuition for all New Mexicans at $122 per credit hour, or about three times less than the school’s out-of-state tuition.
Gov. Bill Richardson is proposing a 15 percent increase in the tuition paid by Texans who qualify for the 135-mile rule tuition waiver program.
The state reimburses universities for in-state tuitions, but there is a proposed cap ($8.6 million) on reimbursements for Texans living within 135 miles of campus. This means either Texans pay a bit more than in-state tuition or the respective New Mexico universities pick up the remaining tab.
If the governor’s plan goes through, Eastern President Dr. Steven Gamble said he will choose the latter, at least for now.
“This will hurt (Eastern); it won’t hurt the Texans, because once we’ve taken them as students we’ve taken them as students,” Gamble said. “We’re not going to bring them in here and let them pay in-state tuition and all of a sudden say hey by the way you’re going to have to pay a ton more money to go to school here.”
I’m with Gamble on this decision, for one because I’m waste-deep in college loan bills for attending an out-of-state (and private, my father warned me) university.
While a big proponent of college education, I am also privy to the myriad of problems it presents to a young graduate’s bank account. It may take 10 years to pay off my college loans and be debt free.
So thinking along those lines — thinking like a student — Gamble seems to have the right idea: Keep it cheap for as many students as possible.
Logically speaking, had the 774 New Mexicans attending Texas Tech University came rather to Eastern or New Mexico State they would have been eligible for in-state tuition. So what if we trade a few New Mexicans for a few Texans living within 135 miles? It all works out in the end: New Mexicans getting a deal to attend Texas Tech and Texans getting a deal to attend Eastern.
In the end, what works out best for the students should matter most.

Mike Linn is managing editor for the Portales News-Tribune. He can be contacted at 356-4483, ext. 33. His e-mail address is:
Mike_Linn@link.freedom.com