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

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

The Battalion

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Officials discuss tuition changes at final hearing

University officials discussed changes to tuition and fees for incoming freshmen at the last of two open hearings Tuesday. The plans include a $20 advising fee, and a 2.2 percent flat tuition increase and a new variable tuition plan option.
The tuition increase would have no effect on currently enrolled students, whose rate is fixed for their normal course of study under the guaranteed tuition plan. Likewise, the new $20 fee would only affect incoming students. 
“This is money that is going to have a firewall built around it for advising,” said Vice President of Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer Jerry Strawser. “A lot of the money will be going to advising people, some of the money may go to advising technologies. But, the fact of the matter is our average students per advisor is over 360. Which sounds like a lot and I think it is a lot.”
Strawser said the variable tuition plan would be designated by the percentage change of the Higher Education Price Index,  a measure  of inflation faced by universities.
“We are making [the variable tuition plan] available for the first time because a number of students have told us that they would like to have a variable option, and we want to give that,” Strawser said. “In fall 2017 we will increase it based on the HEPI, no more that the Higher Education Price Index. If the HEPI next year is zero percent we will not have a tuition increase next year under the variable plan.”
Strawser said the increase in flat-rate tuition will allow the university to retain the same level of services as the university’s costs increase. 
“If costs go up by 2.2 percent then essentially what that is going to tell us is we are going to offer the same level of services, the same number of periodicals in the library, the same technology coverage, the same student affairs activities, the same transportation and bus opportunities,” Strawser said. “All the sorts of things that we have to pay for.” 
With less than 10 students in the audience — nearly all of whom representing Student Government Association — Strawser said he did not know why more students didn’t come to the hearing.
“We sent out a couple mass emails, we took ads out in The Battalion, we put in the TAMU Times, we did a lot of things to publicize it,” Strawser said. “One possibility is we did make it very easy and convenient for students to stream it and watch it, so there may be a big audience there. I didn’t receive any emails for any questions from that audience, so I don’t know if they didn’t have any questions or weren’t watching.”  
Joseph Hood, finance committee chair of the SGA Student Senate, said he is pleased with how the administration has handled the tuition proposal. 
“I might have been a little bit disappointed with the actual student turnout, but your average student isn’t going to turn up,” Hood said. “I think that what matters is that student government was able to come and represent students and really communicate concerns that we’ve gotten from students, over Twitter or through other communications to the administration.” 
Strawser said he thinks bringing these proposals to the student body is important.
“It helps us to know what’s on students’ minds, and it helps us to remind us that we need to be good stewards of the resources we get from students, and when students come out and take time out of their day to talk to us about this and want to make sure we’re using the money to benefit students in the right way,” Strawser said.
Michael Young, Texas A&M University president, said the tuition increase is necessary to ensure a high quality of education.
“We try to think of it holistically in the following sense: if you think about tuition, it is easy to get wrapped around the question of, ‘What is the tuition for this semester?’” Young said. “But it’s important to understand that we also want to structure tuition in a way that not only provides a high quality of education but also insures that people can have the kinds of experiences that really are essential for a great education.”

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