With tuition costs on the rise, the deficit has to be met somewhere. According to the Government Accountability Office, it’s not the states picking up the tab for public higher education.

Benjamin Wermund at the Houston Chronicle reports:

Students now pay public colleges more than states do

Students now pay public colleges and universities more than states do, a new study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found.

As states slashed higher education funding over the last several years, colleges and universities leaned more on tuition to cover costs — part of the reason behind the astronomical jump in the cost of college. The GAO’s findings paint a stark picture of just how much that trend changed the way public schools are funded from 2003 to 2012.

While state funding for public schools decreased by 12 percent overall, the median tuition at those schools rose 55 percent. Tuition accounted for 25 percent of public colleges’ revenue, up from 17 percent, surpassing state funding by 2012, when the states accounted for 23 percent of schools’ budgets. Average net tuition — the estimated tuition after grant aid is deducted — rose 19 percent.

“These increases have contributed to the decline in college affordability as students and their families are bearing the cost of college as a larger portion of their total family budgets,” the GAO wrote.

The federal study looked at funding figures nationwide and did not mention Texas specifically, but it did touch on a couple of policy changes that state lawmakers could consider in their upcoming session: doing away with tuition deregulation — or once again allowing the state to control tuition — and tying state funding to performance by colleges.

In 2003, the Texas Legislature voted to let public colleges set their own tuition. Since then, the average cost to attend a state school more than doubled to $3,951 a semester, according to data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. At some schools, the increase was even greater. Designated tution at the University of Houston, for instance, jumped 280 percent to $2,643 per semester in 2013. UH charged $2,266 in tuition and fees in 2003. A decade later, UH, which is now one of the most expensive schools in the state, charged $5,223.