The Office of Student Financial Services must use current tuition rates to determine financial aid because the Board of Regents has yet to set a date for its 2012-2014 tuition setting meeting.
That means parents and University students may need to take out more in private loans next year if the UT System Board of Regents approves tuition increases at a Regents meeting with an undetermined date, said Student Financial Services director Tom Melecki. He said the office is working to get financial aid packages to recently accepted high school seniors by March 20 and to current students by April 9.
“If we award students financial aid on the basis of a higher tuition rate that does not materialize, then the students would be over-awarded and we would have to go back and reduce their aid,” Melecki said.
Melecki said if tuition is increased, it is possible that more parents will need to borrow federal direct parent loans to cover the cost.
“One of the reasons we believe that is because typically, even with the current cost, it is not unusual for a student to use all of their eligibility for a federal direct student loan,” he said. “We might have to ask mom or dad to take on a little bit more debt.”
On Dec. 15, President William Powers Jr. sent his recommendation to the Regents for the largest tuition increase the UT System will allow for the next two academic years. For in-state undergraduates, the recommended 2.6 percent increase translates into $127 more each semester in the next academic year. Every other student category would face a 3.6 percent increase. For out-of-state undergraduates, the increase will be between $560 and $642 more each semester next academic year.
Under state law, a percentage of tuition revenue must go towards need-based financial aid. Melecki said if the Regents increase tuition, then the Office of Student Financial Services will make adjustments to increase the number of University Tuition Grants given to needy students. He said the funding for these grants would increase by $2 million if the Regents approve Powers’ tuition recommendation. He said some federal loans are available that are not need-based.
Public relations junior Mathew Torres said he receives subsidized and unsubsidized loans that he puts towards food and rent. Torres said his father is overseas, so his mother provides the only source of income for the family. Torres said if tuition increases, he will most likely have to take out more loans from a private bank.
“It doesn’t make me happy, but if it’s what I have to do to get an education I’ll do that,” Torres said.
UT System spokesman Matt Flores said the UT System Board of Regents Office will not set a date for the tuition meeting until it thoroughly assesses Powers’ tuition recommendation.
“There’s a process, individuals look over the recommendations,” Flores said. “These aren’t decisions that are taken lightly.”
The Regents held a regular meeting Feb. 8 and 9 and a special called meeting on Feb. 24 when tuition rates were not discussed. The next regular meeting is planned for May 2 and 3. Flores said previously that the Regents have set tuition at both regularly set meetings and special called meetings depending on the year.
“We’re certain that it has to come soon,” Flores said. “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.”
Printed on Friday, March 2, 2012 as: Possible tuition raise would increase loan need.