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A&M Tuition and Fees on Regents Schedule in Galveston

For the first time in recent memory, the decision to set future tuition rates and fees at Texas A&M University will not be made in College Station.

That’s one of the compaints a student group, Aggie Conservatives, has as the Board of Regents meets in Galveston on Thursday.

Another issue was the lack of time to offer feedback and not seeing details until the regents published their agenda last week. The regents and system officials were asked for comment. The only reply was a statement by student body president Reid Joseph that came from the system in support of the new tuition and fee schedule.

The proposal includes guaranteed tuition rates and mandatory fees. 7,200 undergraduate course fees will be eliminated. There will be a 1.96 percent increase in the designated tuition rate to make up for that revenue and to cover an increase in need-based and state-required financial aid. A&M says for a student taking 15 hours, that amounts to an additional $89.16.

The Aggie Conservatives, which has a membership of one hundred students, wants the regents to delay action until their May meeting in College Station.

Background information from the Board of Regents agenda:

The guaranteed tuition and fee plan will include, at a minimum, the following and be based on a student enrolled in 15 semester credit hours:

1. Statutory Tuition,
2. Designated Tuition,
3. Mandatory Fees (those fees paid by all students) and,
4. Differential Tuition.

The guaranteed plan would exclude non-mandatory fees (e.g., course fees, instructional enhancement fees, field trip fees, study abroad fees, lab fees, distance education fees, etc.) and other academic costs (e.g., parking fees, sports passes, room and board, books, supplies, etc.). Due to the voluntary and/or varied nature of these costs which may differ from program to program or course to course, they will be charged in addition to the guaranteed plan amount.

7,200 course fees will be eliminated and replaced with an increase to the overall undergraduate designated tuition rate charged on a per SCH basis, new undergraduate college-based differential tuition amounts, and a new graduate level college advancement fee. The expected increase in total tuition and fees for an undergraduate student enrolled in 15 SCHs is 1.96% or $89.14 per semester. The expected increase in need-based financial aid is $4.6 million dollars per year. Overall operating revenue would remain the same as before, $26.6 million.

Both resident and non-resident tuition and fees rates would be set for each college. Due to college differential tuition and the proposed change in course fees, each college would have a different published rate than the other colleges. The guarantee applies to tuition (state mandated, designated, and college differential) and mandatory fees (University Advancement, Health Center, Student Center Complex, and Recreational Sports). The college differential tuition currently being charged in Engineering (including Biological and Agricultural Engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences), Business, Architecture, and the $300 teacher certification in TLAC, EPSY, and HLKN majors for juniors and seniors would all be included.

The guaranteed rate would exclude field trip fees, study abroad, distance education differential tuition, laboratory fees, and other non-mandatory fees. These excluded categories would be additional charges above the guaranteed rates. Also, nstitutional room and board, books and supplies, and other non-academic costs are excluded.

Students would be guaranteed the rate they begin with for a period of time based on their college and/or major; 4.5 years for all engineering majors, 5 years for landscape architecture, and 4 years for all other majors.

All new incoming freshmen, both full-time and part-time, will be required to pay the guaranteed tuition and fees rate, based on residency. This rate is valid for the time period specified above from the date of entry. After that time period, the rate is subject to increase to the rate for new students entering at that time.

Any new transfer student in fall 2014 will have a guaranteed rate based on when they first enrolled in higher education in Texas. So, a student who enrolled at any institution in fall 2012, would have a rate similar to juniors and be guaranteed for two years. The university will provide new transfer students an option to select the same rate as freshmen with a four year guarantee (or 4.5 or 5 year depending on program).

Statement from A&M Student Body President Reid Joseph:

“I believe that the guaranteed tuition and fee program being considered by the Board of Regents will effectively allow students and parents to budget for college and provide stability in our unstable economy. In my opinion, it is also in the best interest of Texas A&M as it will allow key leaders to make future decisions based on a fixed amount of revenue.”

News release from Aggie Conservatives:

The Texas Aggie Conservatives released a statement Tuesday questioning the rationale and condemning the timing, location, and circumstances of the scheduled vote by Texas A&M Board of Regents to increase tuition at Texas A&M University. The Aggie Conservatives is calling for the vote to be postponed until May and to be held in College Station.

The Board of Regents meeting will be held in Galveston on Thursday, at which the Board will consider the approval of tuition increases for Texas A&M students and tuition reform policies that will impact all Texas A&M System universities.

The following is the official statement released by the Texas Aggie Conservatives:

For the sake of the interests of all Texas A&M students, the Texas Aggie Conservatives calls upon the Board of Regents to postpone their scheduled vote of Texas A&M tuition reforms until May and to hold the vote in College Station.

Karan Watson, A&M provost, announced the very questionable purpose of the tuition increase: to take money from most students to pay for other students’ tuition. “The increase will be used for financial aid,” said Watson. “We will have more financial aid, but obviously the students will be paying a bit more.” Such a rationale for a tuition increase has not been communicated to students very well and deserves to be better digested and debated among the student body.

The Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on the proposed tuition increase at its next meeting, yet the meeting is scheduled to be held out of town in Galveston, a very inconvenient place for College Station students. Since at least least 2006, all major tuition votes have occurred in College Station and in the months of March or May.

Moreover, the university and university system have done an unacceptably poor job collecting student feedback on the proposal. Texas A&M attempted to collect feedback only during finals and winter break. However, it was later revealed that the final tuition proposal was dated December 9th, before the supposed feedback period.

The university gave only two days notice for the legally required public on-campus hearing on the issue, a hearing that took place on a study day before finals. No details about the proposed tuition increase were released before the hearing, making it impossible for students to study the proposal and bring informed questions to the hearing. At the hearing, Provost Watson admitted it was “too short of notice.”

Provost Watson described the tuition proposals as “major changes,” yet the administration did not distribute any details of the plan to students via email or other form of mass communication. According to university records, only 5 students submitted feedback via email, which further highlights the lackluster effort by the administration to inform students and solicit feedback from university stakeholders.

Comprehensive details of the tuition proposal were not released until the Board of Regents posted their agenda last Friday as required by state law. The university did not respond last week to requests made by the Aggie Conservatives for the public release of the tuition proposal.

Furthermore, tuition proposals are typically considered by the Board of Regents in May, not January. There is currently no permanent university president in place, and there is no urgent need to address tuition rates.

The Aggie Conservatives respectfully requests the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents take no action on tuition related issues at the Board meeting this week.

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Posted by on Jan 29 2014. Filed under Featured Stories, News.
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