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Tuition increase plan advances UT System schools to present recommendations in February

Martin Baylor

Freshmen and graduate students entering UT Rio Grande Valley in Fall 2016 may have to pay a higher tuition than current students.

In a special meeting Oct. 2, the University of Texas System board of regents authorized its schools to develop recommendations for a 2 percent increase in tuition and required fees, according to a system news release. The increase is needed to account for escalation of costs on campuses for salaries, technology, infrastructure and other expenses.

Current students at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will not see an increase because their tuition is already guaranteed, officials say.

Martin Baylor, UTRGV executive vice president for finance and administration, said that if the university considers a tuition increase, it would affect only incoming freshmen and graduate students for the Fall 2016 semester.

“For UTRGV, the tuition is set for everybody but the incoming class,” Baylor said in an interview Oct. 5.

He said the school is in the process of forming a committee composed of administrators, faculty, staff and students that would make a recommendation to UTRGV President Guy Bailey.

“Basically, that committee kind of helps build whatever recommendation … that goes to the president, that can go to the board of regents for consideration,” Baylor said.

The committee has to consider access, affordability, quality, efficiency, transparency, flexibility and shared responsibility in its proposal, he said.

The recommendations will be presented to the board of regents at its Feb. 10 and 11 meeting. If approved, the increase will take effect in the 2016-2017 academic year.

Because the UTRGV committee has not yet been formed, Baylor said they do not know how the money from the increase will be used.

“I couldn’t even begin to tell you that at this point since we really haven’t had any discussion about it,” he said. “Generally, when these discussions happen, previously, they all come out with some specific programs that are related to moving kids along with graduation.”

Baylor said that in the past they would work with the committee to create a tuition increase recommendation in order to fund programs that need help within the university, such as increasing the number of academic advisers.

Asked what he thought of a possible increase for incoming freshmen and graduate students, political science senior Alex Villa replied: “I think that it can actually be beneficial and harmful in the same way. I know that if students are paying out of pocket, it’s going to be hard for them, but then it depends on the resources that are going to be purchased with that increase in the tuition.”

Although he will be graduating soon, Villa said the money could be used for additional parking.

Biomedical sciences senior Alma Muñoz said she is glad the increase is not affecting her and she hopes they use the money for programs.

“I hope they use it wisely. Maybe they can fund new programs or give more funds to programs that already exist,” Muñoz said.

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