Tuition Increase Approved at Sam Houston State

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It will cost a Sam Houston State University student 9 percent more to enroll for a 15-semester hour course schedule next fall under a fee schedule approved Thursday by the university's board of regents.

The Texas State University System Board of Regents held a regular quarterly meeting on the SHSU campus, approving increased fees for tuition, student services, recreational sports and ID card operations and financial counseling.

The board heard a planning report for a new $35 million performing arts center, which could be under construction by May 2008, and approved several other items, including:

Offering a Master of Library Science through distance learning, pending approval of the Texas higher education coordinating board;
Offering up to 50 percent of the courses toward a Master of Education in Counseling online;
Study abroad programs for 15 out-of-country locations.
The fee increases will include $14 per semester credit hour for designated tuition, $2 per semester credit hour to a maximum of $225 in student service fees, $7 per student per semester for the recreational sports fee, and $12 per student per semester for financial services including a financial counseling program.

In a presentation on behalf of the system's Student Advisory Board, Chris Whittaker, president of the SHSU Student Government Association, expressed concern about increased costs for all of the system institutions, and asked the regents to work to hold down costs "whenever possible."

"We realize that the primary need is more financial support from the State of Texas," Whittaker said.

System Chancellor Charles R. Matthews said he welcomed a Student Advisory Board offer to become more involved in the legislative lobbying process, and that they "could have a major impact on the legislative process."

Michael Truncale of Beaumont, who along with SHSU graduates Charlie Amato and Ron Blatchley was attending his first meeting as a new regent, said that the system has 64,000 students and their parents, and "hopefully you're all registered to vote."

"We need to let some people in Austin know that we're here," he said.

State appropriations for Sam Houston State University have fallen to about a third of its total budget. This reflects what SHSU President Jim Gaertner calls a shift in legislative philosophy from viewing education as a "common good" to a "private right."

Gaertner told the regents that the increase in designated tuition will be used for a number of critical needs, including:

Hiring new faculty to serve enrollment growth and to decrease dependence on adjunct faculty;
New faculty and staff positions;
Develop new academic programs with appropriate support staff;
Fully staff academic support centers currently funded from expiring grants and decreasing fund balances;
Provide salary increases for existing faculty and staff.
The student service fee increase will be used to pay student wage increases resulting from federal minimum wage increases that became effective in July. That fee will also support activities of the offices of dean of students, career services, financial aid, counseling, student government and athletics.

The recreational sports fee increase will also be used for increased student wage and utility costs.

The financial services fee will fund the existing university ID and disbursement program along with a new student financial center. The center will include such programs as debt management, financial counseling, and establishing and managing credit.

"A major goal of the center will be to educate students on responsible money management in an effort to help reduce their personal debt levels," Gaertner told the regents.

While tuition and fees for the 2008-09 academic year are increasing at other Texas public universities, the SHSU total of $5,910 for two semesters beginning next fall is below the current state average of $6,437 and national average of $6,185.

Study abroad programs were approved for Belize, China, Costa Rica, England, France, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and United Arab Emirates.