Administrators from The University of Texas-Pan American and The University of Texas System met with the Student Government Association to discuss a tuition increase proposed for the 2004 fall semester.
Dr. Teresa Sullivan, executive vice chancellor for UT System Academic Affairs, UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez and Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services met with students Sept. 22-23 to inform them about the need to prepare for continuous growth in the next few years.
"We know how important cost is to you, and we are determined to keep it as low as possible," Nevárez said. "But we do expect an increase in enrollment, so we must balance affordability and quality."
In the proposal, designated tuition for the 2004 fall semester would increase by $6 from $32 a semester credit to $38 - a relatively low change compared to other UT System universities, which are expected to increase tuition both in January and again in September of 2004 by more than $30 a semester credit.
"The UT Regents have asked all presidents in the System to hold consultations with different constituents on this issue," Sullivan said to a group of more than 20 SGA members. "There is a lot we could do with a tuition raise, but it is also fair for the students to ask us how we are spending the money and hold us accountable."
With the tuition increase, the University would be able to hire 55-62 faculty members, and meet any other needs resulting from the extensive growth.
Although students would be paying more money for courses, UT System universities, including UTPA, have set up discount initiatives to help alleviate the cost.
UT Pan American has proposed a 14-hour flat fee for students. This would allow students to take 14 hours or more a semester and pay a flat tuition fee. Also proposed is an off-peak discount where students would be able to take more courses during the afternoon hours. This would help with parking problems, and course availability.
"We would like to give you an incentive that will allow you to take more courses a semester and ultimately graduate on time," Nevárez said. "If students can take courses later in the day, we can better utilize our facilities and help spread out our capabilities."
SGA members were receptive to the proposal, but did make suggestions of their own that would help with the growth expectancy.
Among those suggestions are possible advisement for students who would consider taking advantage of the 14-hour flat fee incentive, summer semester incentives, more online courses, the hiring of more teaching assistants and possible mini semesters in May and during the winter break.
"I think the administration is going to be very responsible with our money," said Francisco Vielma, SGA president. "As our enrollment grows, our campus needs to grow and essentially the only way for that to happen is with money."
The meeting with SGA members was the first of six sessions scheduled to inform various constituents about the proposal.
Administrators have scheduled meetings with UTPA students during a Town Hall meeting Oct. 2, 12 p.m. at the Engineering Auditorium; Alumni Association Board, Oct. 7, 6:30 p.m. at the ITT Executive Room; Faculty Senate, Oct. 8, 2:45 p.m. at MAGC 1.302; Staff Senate, Oct. 15, 2:30 p.m. at HSHE 1.102; and UTPA Foundation Board members, Oct. 17 at 8 a.m. at the ITT Executive Room.
The proposal is to be submitted to the UT System by the end of October.