Committee proposes tuition hike for out-of-state undergraduates

Nicole Cobler

An ad hoc committee of student leaders, working to replace UT’s Tuition Policy Advisory Committee, proposed to increase tuition for out-of-state undergraduates by 3.6 percent after a process involving almost no student input. 

Andrew Clark, Senate of College Councils president, said the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee did not have a full semester to plan its proposal because the UT System did not send instructions until mid-semester. 

Since 2003, a committee, made up of University officials and student leaders, are tasked with recommending the rate of tuition for undergraduate and graduate students required to fund the academic budget on a biennial basis. The committee’s recommendation must be approved by the University president and the UT System Board of Regents to take effect. 

This year, a working group of three students was set up in place of the committee. The group is made up of Clark, Student Government president Horacio Villarreal and Michelle Moon, a finance, business honors and government senior.

“TPAC has always been a holistic process with a lot of data collection, information gathering and open forums to voice their opinions on tuition,” Clark said. “Given that we were under time constraints, we did not feel like we had the ability to do a full-scale TPAC like we did in years past.”

In the proposal, the group recommended that no change in tuition for graduate students and resident undergraduates, but requested that non-resident undergraduate students receive a 3.6-percent tuition adjustment.

According to UT spokesman Gary Susswein, President William Powers, Jr. has already endorsed the student recommendation and sent it to the UT System.

Laura Grisham, an undeclared freshman and out-of-state student from Missouri, said the decision to raise non-resident tuition was alarming.

“It would make sense if they had more open meetings,” Grisham said. “At least those out-of-state students would understand why the proposal was made to raise out-of-state tuition.”

The only opportunity for student involvement came when the tuition reports were presented at the Student Government and Senate of College Councils meetings during the last week of classes in December.

“We didn’t feel like there was enough time to really seek the campus’ opinion on tuition, and we didn’t feel it would be right to potentially raise people’s tuition without a chance to give them an opportunity to voice their opinions,” Clark said.

The working group’s decision to request a change in out-of-state tuition was determined by the request made by the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee in 2011.

“The reason we went with that number was because the 2011 TPAC process was the last time that the campus had a real opportunity to voice its opinions and engage in tuition,” Clark said.

He said the working group also made sure the University would comply with House Bill 29 — passed in the 83rd Texas Legislature — which requires all institutions to offer a four-year fixed-rate tuition plan for entering students.

Clarification: The headline for this story has been changed since its original posting.