Updated

Aggies may see increase in tuition

By BRETT NAUMAN

Eagle Staff Writer

Tuition at Texas A&M University may increase anywhere from 3 to 15 percent this fall depending on how much state funding the school receives during the legislative session, according to A&M President Robert Gates.

Gates told more than 100 A&M students at a campus forum Monday that a hike will be directly tied to the state funding lawmakers appropriate to A&M during the 140-day session of the 79th Legislature, which got underway in mid-January.

The three proposals Gates outlined for students during the tuition forum called for A&M to raise tuition by $3, $7 or $19 per semester credit hour. He characterized the $19 hike as a “last resort.”

Gates said the proposed increase will be on the agenda for the March meeting of the A&M System Board of Regents.

A&M charges two types of tuition with the bulk of the fall hike coming from what’s called university-authorized tuition, which under Gates’ plan could be increased to $77.50, $81.50 or $93.50 per semester credit hour.

In addition to the university-authorized tuition, the college also has statutory tuition, which currently is $48 per semester credit hour.

It was unclear Monday whether the statutory tuition would be increased. If it remained the same, an A&M student taking a 15-hour course load would see the bill jump by $100, $210 or $570 respectively under Gates’ three scenarios — increases of 3, 6 and 15 percent. That would bring annual tuition at A&M for a student taking the same course load to $3,775, $3,885 and $4,245, under Gates’ proposals.

A tuition increase will help A&M pay for the $32 million increase the university requires to pay for the university’s faculty reinvestment plan, pay raises for employees and rising operational costs, Gates said.

“It’s going to take additional funding to pursue the objectives parents and students demand for a quality education,” Gates said. “Hopefully we can work with legislators to keep an increase at a minimum.”

The students who attended Monday’s forum appeared more concerned about several changes in tuition policy announced by student leaders and supported by Gates rather than the proposed hike.

Members of A&M’s Tuition Policy Advisory Council, which is made up primarily of students, but also has faculty and staff members, have asked the university to begin charging students who take 12 to 14 hours in a semester a 15-hour rate.

The council also recommended adding a $500 to $1,000 surcharge to a student’s bill each semester after they have been at A&M for five years starting with the freshman class next fall.

The two proposed rules, which must be approved by the regents, will encourage students to graduate within five years. Gates said state lawmakers have told A&M officials to work on increasing the number of students who graduate within four- to five-years.

But students in several majors, primarily from the College of Engineering, said the rules will have a negative effect on their ability to work on projects outside the classroom.

• Brett Nauman’s e-mail address is brett.nauman@theeagle.com.

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