UT-System regents approve UTRGV tuition increase

EDINBURG — A tuition hike proposed by University of Texas Rio Grande Valley President Guy Bailey last month was approved by UT System regents on Tuesday and will become effective next fall.

UT officials accepted system-wide increases, ranging from 2-4 percent, during a meeting Monday, according to a news release. At UTRGV, the hike was capped at two percent and will mainly affect incoming undergraduate and graduate students because current students have a fixed rate for up to four years.

“Most of our tuition and fees are at or well below the national level and the fact is that tuition and fees are the single greatest driver for revenue, which, if spent wisely, improves the quality of our schools,” UT System Chancellor William McRaven said in the release. “However, we remain sensitive to the financial challenges our students and their families face, and we very carefully consider their perspective when we make these recommendations.”

Incoming undergraduate students will see a two percent increase totaling $74 for the next two years, meaning entering students will pay a total of $3,724 in 2016 and those entering in 2017 will pay $3,798.

The rates for non-resident undergraduate students will also increase by $74 this year, totaling $9,574, and again in 2017, totaling $9,648.

Incoming graduate students will see an increase of 1.7 percent, or $55 in 2016 and $56 in 2017, which will take their tuition to $3,304 this fall and up to $3,360 the following year.

Non-resident graduate rates will also increase by $55 this year and $56 in 2017, taking the rates to $6,814 and $6,870, respectively.

Current students who don’t finish their degree in four years, will also see an increase.

UT System officials had recommended a minimum of a two percent inflationary rate increase across UT institutions, which for the most part had not had any increases since 2012, Bailey said. But UTRGV had increased its rates before it’s inauguration in the fall 2015, when the system also approved a change from credit- or hourly based tuition to a fixed tuition for up to four years for graduate and undergraduate students.

Because of this recent change, Bailey said he was not comfortable increasing tuition by more than the suggested two percent, even after a UTRGV committee recommended a three percent hike.

“Just thinking that we recently set our rates, I thought we would stick with the two percent inflationary rate, and we’ll see down the road if we need more,” Bailey said in February.

UTRGV officials estimate this increase will create more than $518,000 in new revenue this year and more than $1.6 million in 2017, including undergraduate and graduate rates. Bailey said this revenue would be mainly used to increase the number of course offerings at all UTRGV campuses and hire more faculty.

“This is primarily to expand educational access,” he said. “We’ll also use some money to improve graduation rates.”

dperez-hernandez@themonitor.com