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Bailey to present tuition plan to regents Wednesday 2 percent increase would affect incoming freshmen and graduate students

Guy Bailey THE RIDER FILE PHOTO

If approved Wednesday by the UT System board of regents, Rebekah DeAnda, a Brownsville Hanna High School senior, will pay a total academic cost of $3,723.56 per semester, when she enters UTRGV in Fall 2016.

“It’s not a lot but it’s still something,” DeAnda said last Thursday. “That money could have gone to my books or other things that I’ll need for school.”

The total academic cost (TAC) for new undergraduates would increase from $3,650.36 to $3,723.56 in Fall 2016 and to $3,797.96 in Fall 2017. The TAC for new graduate students entering next fall would increase from $3,248.87 to $3,303.77 per semester and up to $3,359.50 in Fall 2017.

“We will be requesting a 2 percent tuition increase for the entering freshmen class in the Fall of 2016 and then another 2 percent increase for the entering class in the Fall of 2017,” said Martin Baylor, vice president of Finance and Administration and co-chair of the UTRGV Academic Cost Committee.

On Oct. 2, the UT System board of regents authorized UT institutions to present proposals for increases to tuition and fees for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018.

The recommendations may include an increase of 2 percent per year to account for escalation of costs on campuses for salaries, technology, infrastructure and other expenses, according to a UT System news release.

Students who entered UTRGV in Fall 2015 have guaranteed tuition depending on their semester credit hours. Additionally, the university capped tuition at 12 hours for undergraduates, meaning any semester credit hours over
that amount would be free.

Entering freshmen will also have the 12-hour-capped tuition and fixed rates for four years. New graduate students
will have fixed rates for two years.

The estimated net revenue in year one is $518,212 and for year two, $1,634,218.

“[The UTRGV Academic Cost Committee] wanted to expand in course offering, program offering. [We] wanted more student employment opportunities … as well as increase the faculty, at that point, that are currently teaching,” Baylor said about how the revenue will be distributed. “So, we had to focus on those kinds of things [and] what it would take then to fund those kind of activities as well as, you know, keeping the whole cost structure in mind.”

In early December, the committee recommended a 3 percent per year increase in the resident undergraduate total academic cost.

Baylor said that after several discussions with Bailey, the recommendation was changed to 2 percent.

“Our recommendation was for 3 percent,” he said. “Through our conversation with Dr. Bailey, you know, he decided to recommend a 2 percent [tuition increase] for the board.” Computer engineering senior Scott Mercer said he would like to see UTRGV use the revenue for campus improvements.

“[The university should] build better facilities, redo some of the buildings around campus or just upgrade a lot more,” Mercer said. “More jobs on campus will be better. More opportunities for [students] to pay for their school would be a lot better.”

Baylor said the committee focused on providing a low-cost education to students.

“The committee worked really hard in putting this proposal together for Dr. Bailey, working through that and really discussed a lot of the issues that are centered around the cost of education and the importance of keeping, you know, that cost of education as low as we possibly can,” Baylor said. “That was really a very important element in all of our committee discussions.”

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