AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin has forwarded to the University of Texas System its tuition recommendations for the spring and summer of 2004 and the following academic year, largely in line with the recommendations submitted to President Larry R. Faulkner on Oct. 7 by the campus Tuition Policy Advisory Committee.
The proposal, if adopted by the Board of Regents at its Nov. 18 meeting, will increase tuition above current rates by $360 for the spring 2004 semester and $720 in the following fall and spring semesters.
The proposal recommended that an Academic Sustainability Tuition be charged of all students in addition to the rates already in place or predetermined by legislation. The recommendation proposed that income generated from the Academic Sustainability Tuition be dedicated to the three most important priorities of the institution: the protection of the university’s talent, the improvement of the teaching environment and the preservation of facilities, Faulkner said.
While the amounts and concepts included in Faulkner’s proposal largely remained the same as those proposed by the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee, the president did make several targeted changes. He proposed that there be no increase in tuition for the summer 2004 and that the summer 2005 session be charged at a fraction of the full session rate. Faulkner’s proposal also recommends charging new out-of-state students a larger fraction of the cost of education.
Use of the funds, according to the recommendation, would include the hiring of additional faculty to improve student-teacher ratios, the acquisition of teaching equipment and related materials, the repair and preservation of buildings and employee compensation.
The Texas Legislature earlier this year granted authority over tuition to the governing boards of the universities, making it possible for the boards to enact tuition schedules tailored to the varied cost structures and missions of the public universities in Texas. The University of Texas at Austin, facing a budgetary shortfall of about $40 million at the end of the legislative session, implemented several efficiency and cost reduction measures to deal with the deficit, but determined that an increase in tuition would be necessary to provide for essential needs of the university and its community.
Faulkner appointed a Tuition Policy Advisory Committee, consisting of four student leaders, three administrators and two faculty members of the university to make recommendations. The committee reviewed the university’s educational goals and budgetary outlook and held three open forums as well as meetings with many groups to obtain ideas about the university’s needs and to assess possible solutions. After receiving the committee’s recommendations and observing the reactions to the committee’s proposal, which was issued on Oct. 7, Faulkner prepared his tuition recommendations for consideration by the Board of Regents.
Faulkner said the public view of the proposal advanced by the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee revealed broad support among those who did react.
“Naturally, hardly anyone is enthusiastic about paying more for an education here,” Faulkner said, “but in the reaction that I have received locally, that concern has been quite clearly overridden by a desire to preserve the quality of the university and the lifelong value of the education that students receive at UT Austin.”
By recommending a flat-rate tuition increase, the university hopes to provide an incentive for students to speed their time to graduation. Because the increase is not related to students’ semester hours, it provides a discount to students who pursue more credits per semester. The recommendation notes that it is a high priority of the university to increase the four-year graduation rate, so that space can be made more fully available to the large number of students seeking admission to the university. Earlier graduation also reduces substantially the total cost of education to students and their families.
The university’s recommendation proposes that 28 percent from each dollar of Academic Sustainability Tuition be set aside for additional financial aid in support of students from low-and middle-income situations who are otherwise receiving financial aid for their educational costs at the university. Grants would be provided to those students to offset the cost of the Academic Sustainability Tuition according to the annual incomes of the families of students.
For an undergraduate Texas resident with a family income of $40,000 or below, for example, the grant would pay 100 percent of the Academic Sustainability Tuition. The grant would cover 75 percent if the income were $40,001 to $60,000, and 50 percent if the income were $60,001 to $80,000.
For independent undergraduate students and graduate students, the grants cover 50 percent of the Academic Sustainability Tuition.
The proposed Academic Sustainability Tuition would increase the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2004 spring semester by about 13.3 percent for a 15-hour load, the rate generally needed to support four-year graduation. The average cost per semester hour for an undergraduate Texas resident with a 15-hour load would rise from $181 currently to $205. The average cost per semester-hour would be $216 with a 12-hour load and $198 with an 18-hour load.
For the 2004 summer session, the increase would be 0 percent. Faulkner proposed to charge no Academic Sustainability Tuition for the summer of 2004, discounting semester-hours taken in the summer and encouraging fuller use of the university’s facilities, which now offer some additional summer capacity that could be used.
For the 2004-2005 fall and spring semesters, the proposed effect on an undergraduate Texas resident (including the $2 per hour scheduled change in legislatively determined tuition and assuming a proposed 3 percent cap on fees increases) would be:
- The average tuition and fees for a 15-hour load would rise by 14.0 percent.
- The average cost per semester hour would rise from $205 to 234 with a 15-hour load.
- The average cost per semester hour would be $252 with a 12-hour load and $222 with an 18-hour load.
For the 2005 summer session, Faulkner proposed to charge 20 percent of the corresponding full time rate, again, to encourage use of the university’s facilities in the summer. The cost per semester hour with a six-hour load would be $214.
The Academic Sustainability Tuition for the spring semester 2004 would be charged at a flat rate of $360 for full-time students who are Texas residents (12 hours or more for undergraduates, nine hours or more for graduate students) regardless of the semester-hours for which the student is registered.
For full-time students who are nonresidents of Texas, the Academic Sustainability Tuition would be charged at a flat rate of $400, representing 111 percent of the rate for resident students.
The recommendation also proposed that fees be frozen at current levels for both the 2004 spring semester and the 2004 summer session and that they be capped at no more than a 3 percent increase for the next academic year.
The Academic Sustainability Tuition for each semester of the 2004-2005 long session would be a flat rate of $720 for full-time Texas residents. The full-time fees for non-residents continuing from the spring semester 2004 would be $800, and for nonresidents enrolling for the first time after the spring semester 2004 it would be a flat rate of $1,200.
The Law School and McCombs School of Business proposed tuition increases in addition to the university-wide increase. The Law School proposed a $60 per-semester-credit-hour increase for the 2004-05 academic year and another $84 per-semester-credit-hour increase for 2005-06. The McCombs School recommended an increase for students seeking master’s degrees of $38 per semester credit hour for in-state students and $29 per semester credit hour for out-of-state students next fall.
“By establishing a tiered program of grants-in-aid, we provide both a full safety net for the students most in need and substantial support for middle-class students,” Faulkner said. “It is important that we attend to both of these things, because both relate critically to the preservation of access at a nationally competitive public university.”