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Tuition Policy Advisory Committee recommends tuition increases of 5.5 and 3.9 percent in next two years

The Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) at The University of Texas at Austin has recommended to President Larry R. Faulkner average tuition increases of 5.5 percent and 3.9 percent for resident undergraduate students for the next two academic years. Graduate and non-resident students would see similar increases.

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AUSTIN, Texas—The Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) at The University of Texas at Austin has recommended to President Larry R. Faulkner average tuition increases of 5.5 percent and 3.9 percent for resident undergraduate students for the next two academic years. Graduate and non-resident students would see similar increases.

The committee also proposed that $150 per semester be added to tuition in 2006-07 and $50 per semester added in 2007-08 to help pay for expected record-breaking natural gas prices. Should prices decline below projected levels these charges would be reduced accordingly—the committee proposed that students be protected from gas prices exceeding projections. The committee applauded the university’s continuing efforts to conserve energy, but noted that those efforts alone could not mitigate extraordinary energy costs.

Adding the recurring flat rate tuition increase of 5.5 percent to the one-time charge of $150 for natural gas costs, the average resident undergraduate student would see a maximum total increase of 9.6 percent next fall. For 2007-08, because of a projected decrease in the charge for natural gas costs, the recurring tuition increase and the natural gas charge would result in a maximum 1.2 percent overall hike.

For example, a typical Liberal Arts student paying $3,486 this year would pay a maximum of $3,815 per semester next year under the TPAC proposal and $3,835 the following year.

If approved, the new tuition funds will be used to hire additional faculty to reduce the university’s student/faculty ratio, support merit pay increases for faculty and staff, fund requested student services and college and school initiatives, and offset increases in utilities costs.

“I am grateful to the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee members for their hard work and careful deliberation,” Faulkner said. “They are engaged in a difficult but necessary process that will strengthen our institution and improve the quality of education on this campus. I will review their recommendations and act on them in early December.”

The committee believed it was critically important that students and parents know in advance the total cost to attend a Texas public university.

“Last year The University of Texas at Austin adopted a flat rate tuition structure for all undergraduate students that now includes all tuition and fees previously billed separately,” said Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer and co-chair of the TPAC. “Before flat rate it was impossible to know the total cost of education at the university before the three-page tuition and fee bill arrived. Now it is totally transparent—one page, one number. The increases proposed by the committee are increases to the total cost to attend this university.”

The TPAC, which gave its proposal to Faulkner on Nov. 3, will present its recommendations to the university community at public forums from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8 in Welch 1.316 and from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9 in Main 212. Faulkner will be present at the meetings to hear public comment before developing his own tuition recommendations for submission to the University of Texas System Board of Regents.

The proposal also recommended continuing to protect lower income families through a financial aid program that covers 100 percent of the increase for families with incomes up to $40,000, 75 percent for those with incomes between $40,001 and $60,000, and 50 percent for those between $60,001 and $80,000.

The committee’s recommendations for 2007-08 projected a net increase in state appropriated funds of $9.2 million for that fiscal year. The committee suggested that its tuition recommendation for the year be increased or decreased to reflect the actual amount of net new appropriated funds committed that year by the State Legislature. It believes it is important for students to recognize the impact that state support has on their cost of education. The committee also commented that establishing a predictable funding agreement between the state and its universities is essential if universities are to offer more predictable pricing to parents and students.

“This is a two-year recommendation to allow families to better plan for the cost of their children’s education,” Hegarty said. “Our goal is to someday be able to announce four-year tuition recommendations, but we must have a predictable funding agreement with the state to get there.”

The TPAC advocated temporarily maintaining the total student population at 49,500 for the next two years before continuing to pursue the university’s stated goal of 48,000. The committee said it is “not financially practical to further reduce the population of the university at this time.”

TPAC membership:

Voting Members

    • Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Executive Vice President and Provost—Co-Chair
    • Kevin Hegarty, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer—Co-Chair
    • Victoria Rodriguez, Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies
    • Steven W. Leslie, Dean, College of Pharmacy
    • Alexa Stuifbergen, Chair of Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets
    • Omar Ochoa, Student Government Representative
    • Cale McDowell, Senate of College Councils Representative
    • Erica Whittington/Jessica Geier, Graduate Student Assembly Representative
    • Michael Canlas, Student Representative at Large

Non-Voting Members

    • Steve Monti, Executive Vice Provost
    • Mary Knight, Associate Vice President and Budget Director

For more information contact: Sheldon Ekland-Olson, 512-232-3300; Omar Ochoa, 512-471-3166; Don Hale, 512-471-3151.