Texas A&M is preparing for their biennial budget battle, and the state says the university should be ready for a five percent cut next year. That could mean student tuition will rise again.
"For a lot of us that do work jobs to pay for our school, we can't afford the rate that it's going up," said Aggie student Helen Browning. "Our jobs aren't getting anymore money."
"I feel that a lot of the student body would support the fact that tuition should not be raised," said another A&M student, Jessica Brick.
"I'd rather not raise tuition at all, to be honest with you," said Texas A&M president Robert Gates. "I've always considered a tuition increase to be a last resort, not a first resort. But we do need to increase the quality of education here."
One of those proposed improvements is a move to hire more than 400 new faculty members over five years. By this summer, around 150 faculty will have been hired in the past two years, making up for the more than 100 positions eliminated in the 1990s.
"In the last legislature, we made our case, particularly for the faculty reinvestment program, and the legislature agreed with us," said Gates.
More professors mean smaller classes. This year, only about 25 percent of classes have more than 50 students, compared to 33 percent in 2003. But another state budget cut would have a big impact. According to Gates, the state's funding has decreased drastically since 1992, meaning tuition now accounts for a larger part of A&M's total yearly budget.
"The tuition increase last fall was specifically allocated for the faculty reinvestment program and for financial aid," said Gates. "So it's not like we're using it to pave the roads or tar the roofs."
In May A&M will know how much state money is coming.
"I learned a long time ago in Washington that these budgetary processes are long and there are a lot of ups and downs," said Gates.
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