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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Board of Regents approves tuition increases, defers vote on fee

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Photo by File
Board of Regents

Incoming freshmen will face different tuition rates and outgoing seniors will keep the former seal on their diploma following the Thursday Board of Regents meeting.

In addition to approving a proposal to print the former A&M seal on all diplomas in the future, the Board approved a 2.2 percent flat-rate tuition increase and a new variable-option tuition plan. Under the variable-option tuition plan, a student’s tuition cost would fluctuate depending on the percentage change of the Higher Education Price Index,  a measure  of inflation faced by universities. The changes will only apply to freshmen and students who have exceeded their degree plan hours in fall 2016.

Heading into the meeting, the vote on tuition changes was grouped with a vote on the proposal to add a $20 advising fee to incoming students. Before open forum, however, the Board announced a revision to defer the vote on the advising fee until next year.

During open forum, Student Governments Association representatives presented a bill stating disapproval of the tuition increase and the results of a referendum opposing the addition of the advising fee. The referendum, which was open to the student body from Nov. 5 through Nov.10, received 5,798 votes, of which 62 percent were in opposition of the fee.

Regent Charles W. Schwartz said the Board deferred the vote on increasing the advising fee until next year after careful consideration.

“We have consulted with the administration and the administration has agreed that it would be a step in the right direction to defer the advising fee for a year,” Schwartz said. “And we certainly want to continue to work hand in hand with our student leaders and our students who strongly think about that.”

Schwartz said the administration and the Board still hope to expand advising.

“President Young and Chancellor Sharp said that we are not going to give up on advising,” Schwartz said. “We think it is a really good program and we will find the money. We will fund it, we will make due and we will absorb the additional expense of the advising process that we want to expand.

Joseph Hood, finance chair for A&M’s Student Senate, said during the open hearing portion of the Board of Regents meeting, he appreciated the deferment of the fee.

“I very much appreciate Regent Schwartz’s proposal to hold off this advising fee for another year,” Hood said. “Wait and see what kind of data we can gather as far as how this affects career and graduation rates as well as how does this will affect the development of students grade point averages, etc., moving forward.”

Gabe Pereira, the student regent on the Board, said he appreciated the Board’s dedication to transparency.

“Just on behalf of the student leaders at Texas A&M—College Station, I would just like to comment on the fact that their major concern was indeed this advising fee,” Pereira said. “They, along with the other schools I’ve heard from, they were very positive about the open forums that were held for tuition and they do think that the administration did care about their opinion and took it to heart and they do understand the increase in regards to the tuition increase with regard to the higher education price index.”

Trey Miller, student government vice president of finance, said he thought the referendum  had an impact on the Board’s decision.

“You really saw today how the Regents see how the students are viewing and perceiving some of the actions they are taking and they want this sort of dialogue…  and they have done really well with continuing to have a dialogue with us,” Miller said. “Transparency has been great this year and because of that, maybe that is how they could tell that we wanted some more time, and that is what ultimately ended up happening.”

Rachel Maduro, visualization senior, said she thinks in the end, the deferment of the fee is only a small victory.
“Obviously [the Board] listened to them, because they got rid of the $20 fee,” Maduro said. “But it’s still such a minor changing point, and it just doesn’t feel like it really matters. So I guess I am kind of ambivalent about it.”

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