Tuition Again on the Rise at A&M?

By  | 

New tuition proposals are on the table at Texas A&M, but will depend greatly on the state legislature.

In a presentation to faculty, staff and students Wednesday afternoon, the university's Tuition Policy Advisory Council and Interim President Eddie Davis provided recommendations for Fiscal Year 2008. (Read A&M's full presentation using the link at the end of this story)

Among the proposals are a possible increase per undergrad semester credit hour of upwards of $27 for the upcoming fall semester. But it's all dependant on the state's appropriations bill, which isn't due to be finalized until May.

A proposal on tuition at A&M will go to the Board of Regents in March. That proposal will include a range on tuition increase, with a final number to be determined after the state decides on its appropriations bill.

"We have concerns, as everybody does, about increasing costs in higher education," said Davis, "and we don't want students and their families to bear an unfair burden."

Out-of-state undergrad Aggies entering A&M may face a $200 tuition hike for each semester credit hour starting in Fall 2008. That's the recommendation of the TPAC after finding that A&M ranks low among peer institutions when it comes to tuition and fees that their non-resident undergrads are paying.

The increase in Fall 2008 would affect only new undergrads entering A&M for that semester and thereafter. Come the Fall 2013 semester, entering and enrolled out-of-state undergrads would pay the new tuition rate.

"We want to put in-state students for a state-funded institution and out-of-state students on par with what they're contributing to Texas A&M," said Student Body President Nic Taunton, who is also on the TPAC.

Among 17 peer institutions surveyed, A&M currently ranks fourth-to-last in undergraduate non-resident tuition and fees, about $5,000 below the median amount paid by each student.

Also worth noting in Wednesday's proposal is an increase in student fees for all parking permits, save for the West Campus Garage, which would see a 38 percent decrease (from $374 to $240). The reason: encouraging students to use that lot over others often used for special events.

But it's the differential tuition increase of upwards of $27 that adds to what is becoming a tradition of tuition hikes, and not just at A&M. The goal is to meet funding needs, but not at too steep a price.

"We have a quality place still that has high demand from the students of the state of Texas," said Davis. "What we don't want to do, however, is take students who can't afford to be here and hold them out of the process."

But in Aggieland, students and parents began bearing the bulk of the burden for tuition and fees in 2004, as the state's percentage contribution continued to drop. It was the first time in university history that the state's funding as a percentage fell below families'.

For Fiscal Year 2006, tuition and fees made up 32 percent of the total current fund operating expenses, while the state provided 27 percent.

Funds have been reallocated and initiatives have been implemented by the university that have saved millions, like the recent reduction of 400 positions that saved A&M $12 million annually. But despite those moves, tuition will likely rise once again.

"You do feel it," said A&M student Jake Bathman. "Every single year, we have these meetings that say tuition's going up and fees are going up. Unfortunately, it is necessary. The cost of everything goes up every single year."

Among the other items of note:

  • According to the university's numbers, the implementation of flat tuition in Fall 2005 has resulted in an increase in the average number of credit hours Aggies are taking each semester. The goal of flat tuition was to encourage students to graduate sooner by taking more hours. For Spring 2007, undergrads at A&M were taking an average of 13.45 credit hours, an increase of .42 hours since 2005, or 3.12 percent.

  • It is proposed that the student energy fee should remain at $65 for Fiscal Year 2008. Back in 2006, a $99 fee per student was created due to rising energy costs, but was later reduced to $65. Despite projections of rising costs of natural gas and electricity, the TPAC projects they can keep the fee at $65, but will continue to encourage conservation efforts on campus.