Board of Regents' upcoming meeting delays setting tuition rates

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The UT System Board of Regents will not set tuition rates for the next two academic years at Thursday’s special called meeting, contrary to the expectations of University administrators.

If the Regents decide on tuition after April, it will be the latest they have set the tuition rates since 2004. The delay will affect registration, University initiatives and preparation of the University budget. UT System spokesman Anthony de Bruyn said the main reason tuition will not be discussed at the special meeting is “just because it wasn’t posted on the April agenda” by the Regents.

Mary Knight, associate vice president and budget director for the University, said the UT System had previously notified University administrators that tuition would be discussed at today’s meeting, but were told otherwise at a budget meeting on Monday.

In 2003, tuition deregulation shifted tuition setting power from the state legislature to the board of regents for each state institution. On Dec. 15, President William Powers Jr. recommended the largest tuition increase the UT System will allow.

The UT System gave directives that any recommendation to increase tuition must be tied to improving four-year graduation rates. Knight said some of the initiatives might be delayed if the budget must take increased funds into account. The main initiatives include hiring more faculty to provide additional course sections, expanding career services and improving academic advising.

Knight said another problem with the delay is that registration for the summer and the fall semesters begins on Monday.

“We need to be able to tell the students something by Monday,” Knight said. “We’re trying to work through that now.”

Former UT System spokesman Matt Flores spoke with the The Daily Texan March 2. Flores said the UT System Regents Office was assessing the tuition recommendations, but said, “We’re certain it has to come soon. Clearly it has to be done with enough time to get course schedules published so they’ll know how much they can expect to pay.”

The University budget proposal is due to the UT System in May, Knight said. She said the University is currently preparing the budget without the recommended tuition increase, which would generate $30.6 million worth of academic funds from 2012-2014. Knight said it generally takes the entire summer for the University and the UT System to finish preparations for the Regents’ August meeting.

“We don’t usually have an opportunity to change it,” Knight said.

De Bruyn gave no specifics on the reason for the delay, but said the Regents could call another special meeting to set tuition or wait for a regularly scheduled meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for May 2 and 3.

“All I know is that the UT System administrators have been diligently reviewing the campus proposals and that review continues,” de Bruyn said. “I would say they will most likely be discussed in May.”

De Bruyn said he did not know how the universities should handle communicating tuition costs as registration begins, distributing financial aid packages and preparing institutional budgets.

“You would have to ask the universities,” de Bruyn said. “We’re clearly mindful of deadlines.”

Printed on Thursday, April 12, 2012 as: UT Regents delay setting tuition rates despite plans