By Rene Cardona Jr.
Students will see an increase in tuition for the coming 2013-2014 biennium, which will fund new initiatives to improve academic success, and although some fees will be adjusted, the total amount paid will not change.
UTB/TSC officials sent a proposal describing the changes in tuition and fees to the University of Texas System Dec. 15 after hosting public hearings last semester. However, revisions had to be made last week, said Linda Granja, UTB’s financial analysis manager. The UT System had set a 2.6 percent limit on increases to designated tuition, but officials made an error in their calculations by using 2.67 percent.
David Prior, UT System’s executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, contacted UTB President Juliet V. García Wednesday to notify her of the mistake.
For Fall 2011 and Spring 2012, state residents paid $150.67 per semester credit hour, and non-residents paid $463.65. Both types of students paid $687.50 in fees if they signed up for 12 semester credit hours and $765.50 if they signed up for 15.
Designated tuition and statutory tuition compose the cost students pay per semester credit hour. Changes can only be made to the former. Statutory tuition is mandated by the Texas Legislature and remains at a static $50 per semester credit hour (for state residents). UTB’s proposal calls for an increase of 2.6 percent or $5.30 and $5.44 in designated tuition for fiscal years 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Consequently, a (resident or nonresident) student taking 12 hours would pay an additional $63.60 in FY 2013 and $65.28 in FY 2014, according to updated figures provided by Granja.
State residents should expect to pay $155.95 per semester credit hour in FY 2013 and $161.39 per hour in FY 2014 in tuition, excluding mandatory fees. Tuition rates for nonresident and foreign students are not yet available as they are set by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and independent from UTB’s proposal process.
As per directives issued by the UT System, institutions cannot raise tuition and fees more than 2.6 percent and any increases must be tied to efforts that improve retention and/or graduation rates.
The revenue generated from the tuition increases, which students will see beginning in Fall 2012, will be used to improve retention through structured peer mentoring, supplemental instruction and tutoring, early alert mechanisms, block scheduling and first-year seminar courses, the proposal states.
According to research done by the university, structured peer mentoring–like that offered by the federally funded grant program Title V, which aims to provide support to students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics—led to higher retention rates.
“The mentored students were retained at 78 percent as compared to our overall first-time freshmen retention rate of 55 percent,” the proposal states. “However, lack of funding has limited the use of peer mentors at UTB.”
Tuition increases will thus allow UTB to add at least 25 new mentors, according to the proposal.
More funding will also allow faculty to fully utilize Blackboard’s early alert functions to identify struggling students, who will then be directed to the proper channels to increase their chances of academic success.
UTB would also like to increase its course offerings to accommodate students who have rigid work schedules and family obligations.
“Time to graduation is lengthy due to our inability to schedule enough courses for students to complete program requirements during their preferred time slot,” the proposal states. “As a result, the university is implementing block scheduling that will provide three major time slots during the morning, late afternoon and evening hours. Additional dollars will be required to ensure that adequate faculty members are available to deliver instruction in the three time slots.”
As for fees, UTB Provost Alan Artibise assured students would not see an increase in fees. But because of the separation of UTB and TSC, the university is set to lose about 49 percent of students, resulting in less fee-generated revenue.
“There are quite a few resources that are completely funded through student fees, so if we don’t have the money we can’t do them,” Artibise said.
Fees are the only source of funding for the Athletics Department, so its budget will be cut by nearly half after separation. To compensate for the loss, the baseball team will be cut at the end of Spring 2012, and the athletic fee will be increased in the coming biennium from $84 to $87.19 for students taking 12 semester credit hours. Students taking 15 hours will see an increase from $105 to $109, according to the proposal.
To offset the increase in the athletics fee, the student recreation fee, which is not contingent on credit hours, will be reduced from $79 to $75.
The UT System board of regents will meet sometime in March, although a date has not been agreed upon, said Megan Kareithi, an administrative associate with the UT System, to consider the tuition proposals in which the presidents from all UT institutions will be present to answer any questions the regents may have.
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