GALVESTON — The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents will make a rare visit to Galveston today to talk about proposed tuition increases that could affect more than 50,000 students.
The regents will hold a public hearing today at 11 a.m. at Texas A&M University at Galveston. The main purpose of the meeting will be to hear input from A&M students and the general public about the increases proposed to start next fall.
Under the proposal, tuition for incoming freshman would increase by about 6 percent above the current rate. The increase is supposed to accommodate a new tuition strategy for undergraduates. The strategy would guarantee new students would pay a mostly set tuition rate for their entire time at Texas A&M.
The tuition increase would also come with a decrease in the amount of non-tuition fees that students pay in their bill. Undergraduate students would no longer pay any of the 7,200 instructional enhancement fees currently required at the school. The fees were established in 2007 to fund equipment, software, maintenance and repair, and other factors that would enhance the development of the A&M campuses. However, a recent audit showed the fees were not documented properly, and may not have been paid to the correct funds.
“We need to eliminate these fees and consolidate them into one lump tuition fee,” Regent Anthony Buzbee said.
The new guaranteed tuition rate would take the total costs of the students’ four-year tuition and add a predicted inflation to determine the cost. A student’s actual tuition would also differ depending on the program the student is enrolled in.
“The tuition cost increase replaces the eliminated fees and includes an inflation factor applied to years two, three and four and then averaged over the four-year guaranteed period [for freshman],” Susan Lee, vice president for finance at A&M Galveston, said.
Buzbee said current sophomores, juniors and seniors would be able to switch to the new guaranteed rate or continue to pay under the existing system.
Officials said the tuition change is also being made because of a new state law. The law requires portions of tuition to be used for need-based scholarships.
“[The change] results in additional scholarships available to our students while funding departments at the same level as in previous years when funded by fees,” Lee said.
For TAMUG students, there would be a new $25 per semester credit hour for students, which will be included in the tuition increase.
The differential tuition will be used to implement new programs, such as an Engineering master’s program on the Galveston campus, Buzbee said.
“The differential tuition is for additional degree plans, such as a subsidy Engineering Master’s program,” Buzbee said.
The regents will not vote on the tuition plan today.
The regents oversee all 11 Texas A&M Universities across the state. The tuition changes would only be applied to the students who attend the flagship university in College Station, TAMUG or Texas A&M Health Science Center in Round Rock. TAMUG and the science center are considered extensions of the main university and not separate colleges.
Thursday’s meeting will be the first time the Galveston campus will host the Board of Regents meeting. Buzbee, a Houston-based lawyer who has an office in Galveston, said he suggested the location because he wanted the regents to see the condition of the aging TAMUG campus.
At a glance
What: Board of Regents Public Hearing
When: 11 a.m. today
Where: Physical Education Facility, Jim & Pat McCloy Arena, Room 110(A), 200 Seawolf Parkway