On Monday, UT-Austin president Greg Fenves submitted a proposal to increase tuition by 3.1 percent, or approximately $152 per semester for full-time Texas resident undergraduate students, for the 2016-17 academic year. Fenves also proposed an additional 3 percent increase starting in 2017-18.
“I want you to know that I do not take lightly the issue of raising tuition,” Fenves wrote in an email to all students. “Families are counting their dollars and expect us to keep UT affordable and accessible to students from all backgrounds. To that end, we will identify areas where we can reduce costs and reallocate existing funds to academic priorities.”
Fenves also said that financial aid will be increased for the students most in need.
The tuition increase is pending approval by the UT System Board of Regents. It would be the first tuition hike since 2011.
In October, the regents approved a proposal to allow UT System campuses to increase tuition by at least 2 percent, and on Dec. 3, the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee—a group of UT-Austin administrators and student leaders—recommended that Fenves ask for a 3 percent increase.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has been an outspoken opponent of increasing tuition, voiced his disapproval of the plan. He also suggested that the Texas Legislature may consider taking back control of tuition decisions from the university governing boards. In 2003, tuition was deregulated, giving the Board of Regents, not the legislature, the power to set tuition.
“If universities across Texas continue to ignore the increasing financial burden on students and families, and do not look for ways to reduce costs and pass those savings unto students, I have no doubt the legislature will,” Patrick told the Dallas Morning News.
During the 2015 session, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle advocated for giving the legislature more control over tuition, with Sen. Rodney Ellis and Sen. Charles Schwertner proposing tuition freezes and Sen. Kel Seliger proposing a plan that would allow increases only if schools met certain performance measures, like higher graduation rates.
Last month, the Texas A&M University System approved a 2.2 percent tuition increase.
Photo by Anna Donlan
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