Regents emphasize financial aid in approving tuition increases

AUSTIN, Texas—The Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on Tuesday (Nov. 18) approved tuition increases for this spring after receiving assurances from university officials that adequate financial aid would be available to help students pay for the new costs.

The board also approved tuition and fee plans for the next academic year, which begins in fall 2004, but the approval is not effective until Jan. 23. That action was taken to allow time to receive final input from the public, legislators and other policymakers.

The regents approved plans that include setting aside at least 20 percent of new tuition revenues for financial aid programs, as well as a variety of ways that students can take advantage of special discounts in tuition rates. All nine of the general academic universities in the system will pay completely for the tuition increases for lower-income students, and several will institute new work study programs. At least one campus will provide no-cost loans to help students pay for textbooks.

The tuition increases at the general academic universities range from 4 percent to 15 percent for the spring semester for a student taking 12 semester credit hours. Two institutions—UT Brownsville and UT Pan American—did not request increases for the spring.

The University of Texas at Austin will use flat-rate tuition plans that mean the cost per credit hour will go down as students increase the number of hours taken during a semester. The plans also include other major financial incentives for students to increase their course loads and graduate on time.

Campuses will use the new tuition revenues to upgrade academic programs and student services, such as hiring additional faculty and advisers, reducing class sizes, offering more sections of courses, and making repairs and renovations to campus buildings. The new revenues will help offset cuts in state appropriations that average 6 percent across the system for the state’s current two-year budget period.

“Our decision to approve these increases in tuition is undertaken with confidence that the UT System and its component institutions have developed carefully thought-out programs that address multiple priorities in a comprehensive way,” said Charles Miller, chairman of the Board of Regents.

Miller cited eight key priorities that are incorporated in all the tuition plans:

  • Keeping a UT education affordable.
  • Making sure that all students with financial needs receive appropriate aid.
  • Maintaining and enhancing the quality of academic programs and student services.
  • Using creative incentives to help students save money and help institutions achieve their strategic goals.
  • Meeting the needs of a diverse and rapidly growing student population.
  • Helping the state achieve its goals for increased college enrollment and graduation.
  • Operating a tuition system that passes the most demanding tests of accountability and transparency.
  • Developing tuition proposals in full consultation with students, faculty and other constituencies.

The regents acted on Tuesday for the first time under the tuition deregulation law passed by the Legislature last spring. The law transfers authority for settingtuition from the Legislature to university governing boards.

“It is the policy of the UT System that no student be denied educationalopportunity because of financial need, while at the same time ensuring that theeducationalservices provided to students are of the highest quality,” Miller said.

“These tuition plans provide desperately needed revenues that will helpeach campus strengthen its services. They also take full advantage of the flexibilitythatis built into the state’s new tuition law, so that each campus is using tuitionpolicy as a means of achieving its strategic goals.

“I am proud of the way that the campuses and the system administration haveacted to implement the tuition deregulation law, including full participationby students.We have developed a model process, not only for other higher education institutionsin Texas, but for the nation as a whole.”

For more information contact: Monty Jones, The University of Texas System, 512-499-4363.