UT to offer fixed tuition rate

UT to offer fixed tuition rate

Olivia Griffin, Staff Reporter

With the costs of college continuing to rise, the University of Texas system is trying to help students and their families by providing a four year fixed-tuition rather than risk facing possible tuition increases in the future.  Regents from all nine universities in the University of Texas system approved the fixed-tuition option starting with incoming freshmen in the fall of 2014.

“It’s a fixed cost, so families will know exactly what they’ll be paying for in the next four years and they’ll be able to plan better,” UT system executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs Pedro Reyes said in a press release. “That’s one of the biggest attractions of this program.”

While this program is new to most of the UT campuses, fixed-tuition rates are not new to UT-El Paso and UT-Dallas. When UTEP began offering an optional fixed-tuition rate for those enrolling in the fall of 2006, only a small percentage of students signed up.

“Students didn’t like the idea of paying more at the front end than their fellow students were paying for the same year of classes,” UTEP president Diana Natalicio told UT-System Regents. “A third of our students report a family income of less than $20,000 a year, so they’re not in a situation where they can do a lot of financial planning.”

At UTEP, the current guaranteed tuition rate of $257 per hour is almost 9 percent higher than the current year-to-year rate of $236.

However, UTD has reported that the fixed-tuition rates have been beneficial to its campus. According to UTD president David Daniel, UTD’s four-year graduation rate was 32 percent when the fixed-tuition rates were introduced in 2005, but by 2012, graduation rates had increased to 51 percent, just below UT-Austin’s four-year graduation rate of 52 percent.
Many students are concerned the fixed-tuition program will end up costing more money as administrators factor in costs to cover inflation and increased operating costs.  But with some UT colleges in a tuition freeze, some students have not faced significant tuition hikes in the past.

“I feel like my tuition hasn’t really increased that much over the years,” UT-Austin senior Elaine Ng said to the Daily Texan Online. “It’s been mostly stable, so I don’t think it would matter, at least for me.”

While some are weary of the new fixed-tuition plan’s potentially expensive cost, UT administrators are praising the program.

“College access and affordability are critically important issues, and we want to provide a fixed-tuition option in order to create a smoother financial road to a college degree for Texas students,” UT system Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell said to The Horn.
Administrators at UT campuses throughout the state are claiming that the fixed-tuition rate will end up actually benefit students financially rather than making them end up paying more money.

“It’s just another tool for working with students and arriving at affordability,” UT-San Antonio president Ricardo Romo said.

Presently, other public universities that offer fixed-tuition rates include Arizona State University, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of Kansas and the University of Georgia.

According to UT system spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, current and transfer students at UT schools should also expect to hear more about fixed-tuition rates in the near future.

Professors such as UT-Arlington professor James Hardy believe that this program is a big step in improving the availability of public education for Texas students.

“Anything that can be done to help parents and students prepare [for paying for college] should be done,” Hardy said to The ShortHorn. “I think it’s a win-win.”