The University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously approved the increase in tuition and mandatory fees at UT System campuses, including The University of Texas-Pan American Tuesday, March 28 in Austin.
UTPA students, who take 15 Semester Credit Hours (SCH), will see an increase in tuition and fees beginning fall 2006 that will be effective for the next two years for all UT System academic institutions.
"We are pleased with the Board of Regents' approval of our tuition and fees proposal. Our tuition advisory committee made up of students, faculty and staff strived to keep our tuition affordable in order to maintain access but the committee consensus was that the increase was necessary to help us provide a competitive, quality education for current and future students. Our South Texas students deserve every opportunity we can afford to give them," UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas said.
With the approval, UTPA's tuition would increase 19.7 percent in fall 2006 - up $342, to $2,080 a semester. In fall 2007, the tuition and fees will rise 12.26 percent for a cost of $2,335 a semester.
"That brings to you the highest percentage increase in the UT System, however it also brings to you a proposal that keeps us as the lowest-tuition institution in the UT System," Cárdenas said during her presentation before the Board of Regents.
Joining Cárdenas at the special meeting was Student Government Association President Adrian Sandoval, who had the opportunity to address the Board of Regents on the importance of approving the tuition and fees proposal submitted by UTPA.
Sandoval served as one of the co-chairs on UTPA's Cost of Education Committee made up of 17 voting members: nine students, two faculty members and six staff members. The committee was charged with reviewing all fee proposals and developing a recommendation on designated tuition rates. Each UT System campus created a tuition advisory committee to guide the tuition-setting process.
"We wanted to invest in ourselves and to take the steps now even though it may be a drastic step, but take the steps now so that in the future it could be more gradual - baby steps. This big jump is to catch up," Sandoval said.
Cárdenas said the committee had originally recommended designated tuition rates of $71 per Semester Credit Hour (SCH) for fiscal year 2007 and $87 per SCH for fiscal year 2008. She said more than $3.6 million in cost savings was identified which allowed proposed rates to be brought down to $66 per SCH and $82 per SCH for FY 2007 and FY 2008, respectively.
"They (the committee) basically said to us we want quality. I think the time is right to make a bold move to get UTPA tuition out of the cellar so that in succeeding years we can make more reasonable predictable increases," Cárdenas said.
UTPA's tuition increase will provide undergraduate student access and timely graduation, enhance graduate education and research, and the hiring of additional faculty and staff Cárdenas said.
Effective fall 2006, the designated tuition rate will increase from $46 per SCH to $66. In addition, UTPA will begin charging additional designated tuition at $125 per SCH to resident undergraduate students for excess credit hours as defined by Texas Education Code § 54.068 and by Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board rules.
Also, the 14-hour cap on designated tuition will continue at UTPA Cárdenas said. The goal of the 14-hour cap is to encourage students to enroll in more courses that will lead to shortening the time it takes to earn a degree.
For the fall 2007 semester, UTPA's designated tuition rate will increase to $82 per SCH while graduate students will see an increase in their current rate of $30 per SCH to $34, which will further develop and enhance graduate programs.
With the funds raised from the tuition increase, UTPA will be required for the first time to set aside amounts for need-based financial assistance. It is estimated that the financial set-asides generated by the increase, including the excess credit hours tuition, will provide $1.8 million in need-based financial assistance for its students for fiscal year 2007 and an additional $1.2 million in fiscal year 2008.
UTPA will put the following need-based programs in place with set-aside funds:
- Graduate Tuition Grant: Approximately 194 graduate students who demonstrate financial need will be awarded grants of $500 each.
- Retention Scholarship: An award of $500 to 350 second-year students that completed at least 24 hours in the first year and have a 3.0 or greater GPA.
- Tuition Grant One: A grant for Pell students to cover the additional cost of tuition and mandatory fees. This will cover 4,550 students who are the neediest and 3,776 who are somewhat less needy (receiving partial Pell grants).
- Tuition Grant Two: A grant to assist students enrolled in summer sessions since most aid eligibility has been exhausted in the fall and spring semesters.The funds will be directed at those students in jeopardy of not meeting financial aid satisfactory academic progress.
- Matching Scholarship: A matching grant for students receiving South Texas Academic Rising Scholars awards. Scholarship recipients are chosen on the basis of academic achievement, personal strengths, leadership and financial need.
The increase in tuition will also provide UTPA with the opportunity to hire 88 faculty members to adjust the current faculty workload to allow more time for research activities as well as enable the University to maintain reasonable class sizes and promote timely graduation. Also, additional staff will be hired over two years for advising and counseling needs as well as other timely graduation initiatives.
For more information on UTPA's approved proposal, visit http://www.panam.edu/tprop/ or to learn more about other UT System campus tuition proposals visit http://www.utsystem.edu/news/tuition/