University announces possible tuition increases

Maria Mendez

The University is collecting student input on a possible 2 percent tuition increase until Thursday.

The preliminary recommendations to increase tuition for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years were announced by UT’s Tuition Policy Advisory Committee last Wednesday in an email that included an online feedback survey.

Under the recommendations, tuition would increase in both the 2018 and 2019 fall semesters by about $100 for in-state undergraduates and by about $370 for non-resident undergraduates. In-state graduate students would pay about $90 more both years, while tuition for out-of-state graduate students would increase by about $180 both years.

Executive Vice President Maurie McInnis, who co-chairs UT’s tuition committee, said the tuition increases are necessary because the University is implementing a $20 million budget cut due to decreased state funding.

“Even with a tuition increase, we are behind the amount needed just to keep doing everything that we are doing,” McInnis said. “It’s not new money and it doesn’t even make up for everything that we were cut. It just makes that cut less intense.”

The tuition increases are projected to bring an additional $10 million to the University, according to UT’s tuition webpage. Funding from the increases would go towards financial aid as well as operational and inflation costs, McInnis said.

With the decades-long trend of decreased state funding, other universities including Texas State University and UT-El Paso are also proposing tuition hikes for upcoming academic years. The University of Houston increased tuition for the 2018-2019 year by 2 percent in 2016, and Texas A&M approved a 3.75 percent tuition hike in October.

Kareem Mostafa, Graduate Student Assembly president and a member of the committee, said UT’s tuition is lower than at most Texas universities.

“Based on the current tuition, people at UT are (paying much) less than peer institutions, including (those) in the UT System,” said Mostafa, a civil engineering graduate student.

UT’s current average undergraduate tuition of $5,068 ties with Texas Tech University’s tuition, and remains lower than at UT-Dallas, Texas A&M, University of Houston and Texas State University.

The University raised tuition by 3 percent, or about $150, in the 2016 and 2017 fall semesters, but McInnis said the University has long tried to avoid tuition increases.

“We tried to keep the increase as small as we could while also acknowledging that if we did nothing, that real cuts and real impacts would be felt on campus,” McInnis said.

After the survey closes Thursday, the committee will help UT President Gregory Fenves draft an official tuition proposal to be approved by the UT System Board of Regents in February.

Exercise science senior Patricia Singh said she feels like past tuition increases have not helped students.

“When there was a tuition increase last time, transcript prices still went up and then counseling services (fees) still went up,” Singh said. “We get so much money from endowments, and there’s no reason for an increase.”

A previous survey on tuition by the Senate of College Councils showed that 84 percent of students disapproved of any tuition hikes. Senate President Austin Reynolds said most students will continue disapproving of the proposed increase.

“Students clearly didn’t want a tuition increase,” English senior Reynolds said. “For some students that go to UT, this 2 percent means forfeiting food or not having enough money for rent.”