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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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Tuition deregulation discussed in forum

With budget cuts and tuition hikes looming, less than 20 students showed up to forums held Wednesday and Thursday night to discuss proposals for tuition deregulation with University officials.
Student Body President Zac Coventry and several student government representatives were on hand to answer questions and explain the situation surrounding budget cuts and possible deregulation.
Coventry, a senior agricultural development major, said there is currently a shift away from state responsibility for public university funding.
“The atmosphere in the legislature is that the cost of education is being passed to the students,” he said. “I don’t like that, but what we have to do now is decide how to deal with it.”
Six bills that deal with tuition deregulation have been filed with the state legislature. These bills would remove the cap on tuition and place it in the hands of a university’s board of regents.
Some of the bills propose deregulating tuition for out-of-state or summer school students, while others propose total deregulation.
Because of state funding cuts Texas A&M will be forced to give up more than $56 million during the next two years. The administration has attempted to streamline operations and trim where it can, but it is not enough.
Associate Executive Vice President Dan Parker spoke about the possible consequences of budget cuts without tuition deregulation Wednesday night.
“The president has asked us to prepare a plan of a 15 percent cut in non-academic and 10 percent in academic budgets for next year,” he said. “We hope it won’t happen, but it will if there is is no deregulation.”
Even with this streamlining, some programs may have to be eliminated, Parker said.
One victim of the proposed cuts may be the Dairy Science Center, he said. The struggling Dairy Center has been facing the chopping
block since February despite student efforts to save it.
“Where the cuts will really hurt A&M is in programs like the Dairy Science Center,” Parker said. “We’ll see more Dairy Science blood lying on the floor when this is over.”
Coventry said he wants to “just get back to where we were before” all the budget cuts took place.
“We would have to charge $23 more per semester hour. Obviously we’re not going to be able to do that,” he said.
One proposed compromise between budget cuts and deregulation is differential tuition, which would set different rates for classes based on time or department, and a flat rate, which would set a rate per semester for students regardless of the number of hours they choose to take.
“The hybrid of deregulation is differential tuition,” Parker said. “Personally, I’m not in favor.”
A&M System Chancellor Howard Graves is tentatively supporting a deregulation bill sponsored by State Sen. Florence Shapiro, which allows schools to raise tuition to three times the amount currently charged at all state institutions.
Students realize that tuition will rise eventually, but they would rather a governmental instiituion implement it.
“I’m against deregulation because eventually, tuition is going to go up anyway,” said Lindsay Shanklin, a junior marketing major and student government representative. “I prefer having the government set the rate instead of deregulation.”

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