Board of Regents directs universities to provide fixed-tuition options to students


Regent Printice Gary listens to the presentation analyzing System donor trends at the UT System Board of Regents meeting Thursday morning. The Board of Regents recently approved a four-year guaranteed tuition option for all nine academic institutions in the UT System.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Beginning in fall 2014, all nine academic institutions in the UT System will offer a four-year guaranteed tuition option. 

The UT System Board of Regents approved the tuition plan at its meeting Thursday, after the board’s Academic Affairs Committee approved the measure Wednesday. 

Under the guaranteed tuition plan, a student’s tuition will stay the same for four years, even if the University increases tuition during that time. Currently, only UT-Dallas and UT-El Paso offer fixed-rate tuition programs. UT-Dallas established a mandatory guaranteed tuition program for students who entered in fall 2008 or later and has the highest tuition among universities in the System. UT-El Paso has offered an optional guaranteed tuition program since fall 2006. 

“Guaranteed tuition plans allow students and families to better plan for the cost of a degree, rather than being subject to unknown annual increases in tuition,” according to the System’s recommendation. 

Average full-time tuition at UT-Austin has increased from $3,500 in fall 2004 to $4,895 this semester.

Mary Knight, associate vice president and budget director at UT, said offering a fixed-rate option means universities must engage in a considerable amount of budget forecasting to preempt unexpected drops in enrollment, state financial aid or any other factors.

“There are so many factors involved in determining a budget forecast in order to make sure we can meet our budget needs,” Knight said. “There is a lot to consider in this process.” 

Biomedical engineering senior Elaine Ng said given the option, she likely would not choose a fixed-rate tuition plan, especially if it was a more expensive choice to accommodate for budget flexibility.

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

Derek Ho, also a biomedical engineering senior, said he would have to look at the price of any fixed-rate tuition plan before he could consider it.

“If the fixed-rate option wasn’t significantly higher than the standard option, I would choose it in hopes that it would be cheaper in the long run,” Ho said. “It would just depend on cost.”

The board also voted to repeal a rule that all utility easements, areas with electric, gas or telephone lines must be put underground “unless absolutely necessary.” The recommendation cited cost concerns and geographic restrictions that make underground lines difficult to install in their reasoning.

“We have a lot of beautiful campuses that have benefited from this,” Regent Paul Foster said. “We are going to continue to attempt to put utilities underground.”

Elsewhere in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry appointed six men to fill three vacancies each on the Stephen F. Austin State University and Texas Tech University Systems’ Boards of Regents, including two reappointments. All prospective members must now receive confirmation by the Texas Senate. Although three UT System regents — Foster, James Dannenbaum and Printice Gary — saw their terms expire at the beginning of February, Perry has yet to take action in appointing replacements.

Published on February 15, 2013 as "Regents OK fixed-rate tuition options".