Higher oil prices may not be such a bad thing for higher education in Texas: Profits from the 2.1 million acres the UT system owns in west Texas oil country are up 80 percent from the same time last year, the Daily Texan reports. Royalties from use of the land have added up to more than $300 million in the current fiscal year (with two months left to go). The land, donated to the schools by the state in 1876, has generated $4.4 billion for the UT and Texas A&M systems since the drilling program began.
How quickly that money gets funneled back into students' pockets (or diplomas) is a different matter. The profits are reinvested before they make way their way into the universities' general available funds, a practice those fearless accountants refer to as a "smoothing effect." There's also the fact that the UT system's expenses are up because of—you guessed it—rising utility costs.