By VIMAL PATEL email@example.com
Student tuition would rise 3.95 percent next year under a plan presented Wednesday by Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin at a state-mandated tuition hearing.
The proposal — which would pay for staff and faculty merit raises — would mean an increase of $176 in tuition for a total in-state tuition and fee cost of $4,643 per semester. Fees would not increase.
Out-of-state tuition would rise at the same rate, or $409, to $12,314 per semester, which translates into 15 or more hours of coursework.
The plan would have to be approved by the A&M System Board of Regents, which is scheduled to decide tuition rates at its May meeting.
A 3.95 percent tuition increase would generate nearly $16 million in gross revenue.
Loftin supported the recommendations from the Tuition and Fee Advisory Committee, a body of 17 voting members that included students, faculty, deans and administrators.
Loftin, who also recommended a cap of a 3.95 percent tuition and fee increase for the year starting fall 2013, cited declining state funding and increasing student numbers.
“What’s happened is higher education is a so-called discretionary part of the budget, and has suffered accordingly as other demands have risen,” he said.
Loftin flashed a slide that showed Texas A&M’s annual tuition and fees for a full-time student — not counting course fees — at $8,419, lower than Texas Tech’s $8,765, UT-Arlington’s $8,878, the University of Houston’s $9,211 and UT-Austin‘s $9,939.
He said the University of Houston, a school he once taught at, is “a fine school … but I think you wouldn’t compare it to A&M.”
“Are you getting here at Texas A&M something worth what you’re paying for?” Loftin said. “That’s the question to ask.”
The Board of Regents, which has articulated the need to keep higher education affordable, held tuition flat last year, despite pleas from faculty members for increases as a way to help backfill major cuts in state funding.
Board Chair Richard Box did not respond to a message for this story.
The hearing was sparsely attended by students, who represented around 20 of the 70 or so audience members.
Tyler Mandry, a computer science major, said he wants “smaller class sizes, better technology, and better lecturers” and that increased funds would further those goals.
“[Loftin] presented a good case for increases,” he said. “But we have to be careful we keep the value of our education.”
Under the proposal, differential tuition also would increase in the College of Education and Human Development at an additional $300 a semester for full-time students and $20 per credit hour for part-time students.
The extra tuition would only apply to around 1,600 students in the professional phase of the college’s teacher preparation programs. Last fall, the college had nearly 5,200 students, according to university data.
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