System regents ask student leaders to consider tuition raise


Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

At the request of the UT System Board of Regents, a working group of student leaders will now consider up to a 2.6 percent increase for in-state undergraduate tuition in addition to the 3.6 percent out-of-state increase proposed in December.

In 2012, the UT System did not approve any tuition increases at the University and allocated $13.2 million from the Available University Fund to offset tuition and fee increases for 2013 and 2014.

In December, the ad hoc committee of three student leaders, which replaced UT’s Tuition Policy Advisory Committee because of time constraints, created a proposal that requested the hike in out-of-state undergraduate tuition. No changes to in-state undergraduate or graduate-student tuition were initially proposed.

The new working group now has seven student leaders, including graduate students, who were not involved in December’s proposal. The group will have one month to create a new proposal for a one-year cycle. In previous years, tuition has been set for a two-year cycle.

Andrew Clark, Senate of College Councils president, said the working group has met once and will allow students to give their input at the Student Government, Graduate Student Assembly and Senate meetings this week.

“I’m personally very frustrated by the lack of time,” Clark said. “We certainly would have much preferred to do the regular [TPAC] process where we have a couple months to really make this a data-driven experience and use more opportunities for student engagement.”

Clark said the working group has decided graduate student tuition will not increase, and no further decisions will be reached until forums are held with students.

“We will use these meetings as an opportunity to host a forum, do a presentation to explain where we are and some possibilities that may be considered and open it up for questions and comments,” Clark said.

GSA President Columbia Mishra said GSA requested through legislation in February to be involved in any tuition discussions — whether graduate tuition is discussed or not. Graduate students were not involved in December’s proposal.

“Everyone should come and take part, as it is indeed an important issue,” Mishra said. “Getting the word out to the students now is critical.”

Wanda Mercer, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, said, although there are time constraints, the decision must be made before the semester ends.

“You can’t have quite as widespread of a discussion in six weeks’ time as you can in three months’ time, but, on the other hand, we must get these decisions made by early summer, so students can understand what their tuition and fees are going to be,” Mercer said.

Mercer believes that the instructions for the new proposal were sent out because other universities, such as Texas A&M, created a guaranteed plan that would have significant increases in funding.

“The bottom line is the board members agreed to hear what the presidents [of all UT System universities] would like to do for at least one year,” Mercer said. “They have an opportunity not only to submit that but talk to members of the board.” 

Mercer said the debate around the tuition proposal is important to the University.

“I’m glad students are interested, and I find it reassuring that there’s a healthy debate about it,” Mercer said. “It’s an investment they are making in their future.”

Correction: This article has been updated since its original posting. Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this story misstated the proposed percent increase for in-state undergraduate tuition. The committee's proposal is recommending a 2.6 percent increase.