AUSTIN, Texas—University of Texas at Austin President Larry R. Faulkner has recommended adoption of a flat rate tuition system for undergraduate students for academic year 2005-06 and proposed that flat rate tuition by college be set at a rate of 4.75 percent over the amount charged in 2004-05 to full-load students (students taking 15 semester credit hours) in each college.
Faulkner sent his proposal to Chancellor Mark Yudof at the University of Texas System. The University of Texas Board of Regents is scheduled to review tuition policy proposals at a meeting in early spring.
The proposal advocates adoption of “a single flat rate for each college covering all tuition, mandatory fees and other required academic charges” so that for the first time “the full academic cost of attendance would be expressed in a single charge, regardless of a student’s course load.” In the past, tuition and mandatory fees have been charged separately using both fixed charges and charges based on the number of the semester credit hours taken.
Faulkner endorsed the proposal of the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC), which was submitted to the president on Nov. 16. The TPAC is composed of students, faculty members and administrators. The university held two public forums and solicited comments on its Web site. Faulkner’s recommendations included modifications based on public discussion of the TPAC proposals.
The TPAC reported that about $54 million in new revenue would be needed for academic year 2005-06 to cover essential university needs. The tuition proposals would generate a fraction of this amount.
“We ask students and their families to cover about a third of the increased cost of the university’s operation,” Faulkner said. “The proposal provides about $16.5 million, net of financial aid.”
Additional revenue from the state is necessary for reduction of the student/faculty ratio, new academic initiatives, competitive salaries for faculty and staff, academic infrastructure capital projects, and repair and renovation of the university physical plant.
Faulkner said the increase in tuition and mandatory fees “would be entirely dedicated to the three most important priorities of the institution: the protection of our talent, the improvement of the teaching environment and the preservation of our facilities.”
Of the $20.7 million in additional revenue that would be generated under the president’s proposal, about $4.2 million, would be set aside for financial aid and the required contribution to the B-On-Time loan repayment program. This would leave about $16.5 million to address essential university needs.
A total of 24.5 percent of the cumulative designated tuition authorized by the Board of Regents will be used for financial aid in 2005-06.The recommendation includes a continuation of need-based financial aid. For an undergraduate Texas resident with a family income of $40,000 or below, for example, financial aid would pay 100 percent of the proposed increase. Financial aid 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 proposed increase.
The recommendation of a flat rate tuition structure for all undergraduates was influenced by the success of a pilot project, now in its third year, using a flat rate tuition system in the colleges of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences. The flat rate structure encourages undergraduate students to increase their course loads and reduce their time to graduation, Faulkner said. Reducing the time to graduation reduces the total education costs for students and their families and also allows for increased access to the university, he said.
The 85-cent per credit hour fee voted by the students for the construction of the new Gregory Gym Aquatics Center beginning in 2005-06 is in addition to the 4.75 percent increase. For undergraduate students, this new fee will be incorporated into the flat rate structure.
Under the proposed flat rate structure, full-time resident undergraduate students would be charged according to their field of study.
Part-time students taking between eight and 11 semester credit hours will pay a flat rate of 80 percent of the full-load rate, while those taking between one and seven semester credit hours will be charged a prorated amount based on the number of hours they take.
Based on comments made by students at public forums and other feedback he received after the TPAC proposal was announced, Faulkner made three changes in the TPAC proposal. He emphasized the need for student government consultation and review of future fees for student services. He revised 2006 summer session tuition and he clearly defined tuition rates for part-time students.
The 2004-05 Tuition Policy Advisory Committee was co-chaired by Sheldon Ekland-Olson, executive vice president and provost, and Kevin P. Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer for the university. The voting members also include Brent B. Chaney, president of Student Government; Tse-Han “Amy” Fang, student representative at large; Paul A. Navratil, representative for the Graduate Student Assembly: Bruce P. Palka, chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets; Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences; Victoria E. Rodriguez, vice provost and dean of graduate studies; and Patrick Nicholas Staha, representative of the Senate of College Councils. Advisory members were Stephen Monti, executive vice provost, and Mary Knight, associate vice president and budget director.