A subtle nod of approval

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Members of the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee indicated Wednesday in their second open forum of the semester that they are considering recommending a 2.6-percent tuition increase for resident undergraduate students for the next two years.

The committee will submit a tuition recommendation for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years to President William Powers Jr. on Nov. 28 and will host its last open forum of the year on Nov. 30. Powers will submit his recommendation to the Board of Regents by Dec. 15.

The Board of Regents enumerated directives to which TPAC should adhere, including tying requests for increases to improving the University’s four-year graduation rate, a goal Powers outlined in his State of the University Address earlier this fall. The committee must also cap requests for increases at 2.6 percent for undergraduate resident tuition and at 3.6 percent for graduate and non-resident undergraduate tuition.

Straying away from their usually neutral dialoge through the year, TPAC openly revealed this week that it is considering a tuition increase. This decision differs from the group’s approach in 2009, the last tuition-setting year, when no substantive information was released until the committee submitted its recommendation to Powers. Stuck between reduced state funding and an increase-request cap, TPAC is left in the shackled position of selling to students, faculty and administrators a number between zero and the board-determined 2.6-percent maximum.

The forum was the committee’s opportunity to gauge the University community’s reaction to the potential increase. The lack of a strong opposition to it gives TPAC a subtle nod of approval, giving the committee one fewer reason to hesitate in requesting a tuition hike.