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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Tuition increases for Fall 2018 discussed at hearing

Photo by Photo by Dalia Muayad

CFO Jerry Strawser speaks at the Tuition hearing held on Monday night. 

On the evening of Oct. 2, university officials, including President Michael Young and Vice President of Finance Jerry Strawser, gathered at Rudder Tower to discuss increasing tuition and fees for incoming freshmen, transfer and graduate students for the Fall of 2018 semester.
The proposed plan includes an increase of 3.7% for variable tuition rates while the fixed rate, which guarantees fixed tuition for four years, will be 5% above the variable rate. The Student Health Services fee will increase by $2.50 per student, making the total $75 compared to $72.50. The proposed changes would mostly impact incoming students and students who chose the Variable Tuition Plan option. This option changes tuition depending on the Higher Education Price Index, a measurement specifically designed to track the main cost drivers in higher education and inflation.
Young said the main priority is maintaining the quality education Texas A&M provides while still having reasonable tuition rates for students. However, with rising inflation and additional costs of maintaining a university, Young said that tuition rises are necessary.
“We have worked over the years to keep tuition as low as feasible and as consistent as possible,” Young said. “We aim to provide a high quality education. This requires a balance. Failure to address inflation and rising expenses can compromise the quality of education.”
Young said it is important to remember that tuition increases do not only include annual tuition but also consider student’s financial support, opportunity costs and living costs.
“We try to create the most optimal educational experience, but in the most efficient way possible,” Young said. “The highest tuition increase would be not maintaining our education and forcing students to graduate a semester late.”
Vice President of Finance Jerry Strawser, said about 50 percent of university funding can be divided into two categories; 20 percent comes from state appropriations, with the remaining 30 percent coming from tuition. Approximately ten years ago, state governments would provide 30 percent while tuition cover 20 percent.
With this decrease in state appropriations, universities have been forced to increase their tuition rates. Strawser also said that it is important to note that increases in tuition cover inflation.
“We have not kept up with inflation these past few years,” said Strawser. “If we do not keep up and we maintain the current deficit then we cannot improve. We must remain ahead.”
According to Strawser, the increase in tuition will be aimed at academic programs.
“It will go to maintaining the quality of our faculty. It will also go to expanding our faculty,” Strawser said. “We believe that the student to faculty ratio is not optimal. We hope to enhance our educational experience. Counselors are also critical. Additional class and lab sections are important as well.”
Strawser said student opinion is taken into account as members of the board each come up with budget proposals, which are then voted on.
“This past year, Student Affairs, which handles things such as counseling services and academics, gained an increase in budget,” Strawser said. “We will be able to make sure we are listening to students wants and use this budget to benefit them.”
Jonathan Hale, economics senior and student senator, said he hopes the university continues with its transparency of how tuition and overall university funds are handled.
“We’re trying to work on transparency with the student body,” Hale said. “We hope to implement a system to get people more aware of how the university receives and spends funds. We hope to also generate some sympathy to show that these tuition increases are necessary.”
The university will hold another public hearing regarding tuition and fees next Tuesday, Oct. 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in Rudder 601.

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