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Texas universities considering tuition increases

Students at most campuses in the University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems would pay more in tuition next fall under proposals scheduled to be voted on by their governing boards this week.

A plan to raise tuition at the University of Texas at Austin by an average 2.6 percent for resident undergraduates and up to 3.6 percent for non-resident and graduate students would raise about $25.7 million.

While its split with Texas Southmost College continues, the University of Texas at Brownsville has also proposed a tuition increase. For residents and non-residents, fall 2012 tuition would increase by 2.62 percent, while fall 2013 tuition would see a 2.58 increase. In total, the proposal amounts to a projected $1.2 million revenue increase, according to University of Texas System documents.

The UTB-TSC tuition increase is unrelated to the partnership breakup, officials said. However, the two schools are not yet completely separate, so TSC community college students will be affected by a potential increase, UTB-TSC Vice President for Business Affairs Rosemary Martinez told The Herald late last year.

Fall 2011 academic costs were $3,055 for a resident, while the first increase would bump that up to $3,135 for the 2012-2013 school year, according to a UT System document. It notes 15 semester credit hours is average for an undergraduate. The second increase would amount to $3,216 in total academic costs for the 2013-2014 school year, the document states.

Texas officials have said much of the money from tuition increases will be used to pay for better academic advising and expand classes and programs designed to help more students graduate in four years. The other seven campuses in the Texas system would see tuition increases ranging from 2.5 percent to 3.8 percent each year. The Texas regents meet in Austin starting Wednesday and are expected to vote on the tuition plan Thursday.

For undergraduate students at the Austin campus, that would mean an increase from the current $4,896 per semester to $5,154 by fall 2013. Non-resident students would see tuition jump from $16,190 per semester to $17,377 by fall 2013. Bianca Moragne, a junior multimedia journalism major, said the rising costs put more pressure on students and families who are already struggling to pay for school.

“I know I’m going to have to cut back” on expenses, Moragne said, noting that her parents are paying for her education. “I can’t be anything but OK with it because I’m here and I want to graduate from Texas. But it’s annoying to have prices keep going up.”

Texas A&M University regents meet Thursday and Friday in College Station, where they will consider a plan that raises tuition by about $10 per credit hour at 10 campuses with one major exception: No increase is planned at the main campus in College Station after President Bowen Loftin chose not to recommend one, despite saying earlier this year that merit raises for faculty and staff were a top priority.

The main campus did not raise tuition last year either. Tuition for in-state students is $4,467 per semester and $23,809 for non-residents. A Texas A&M spokesman said the university would not comment until after the regents meeting. The Texas Legislature deregulated tuition in 2003 to allow universities to set their own rates.

The tuition increases come after both university systems faced tough criticism last year from Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans who questioned whether they are making good use of their money. Perry has urged universities to develop degree programs that cost no more than $10,000.

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