Full-time UTSA students can expect to see a 4.5 percent rise in academic costs beginning this Fall semester. This increase follows an identical 4.5 percent rise that took place last Fall.
The University of Texas System’s Board of Regents originally approved the proposal last March to elevate costs by a total of 9 percent over a period of two years.
In addition to higher overall tuition, the increase also means higher mandatory fees, average college fees, course fees and lab fees.
The university plans to use the additional revenue to support costs associated with growing enrollment, faculty hiring and retention and a lower student-to-teacher ratio.
Faced with recent reductions in state appropriations, other universities have also had to increase tuition to meet demands.
Texas A&M in San Antonio, Galveston, and Prairie View increased tuition by 3.95 percent, Texas State University by 5 percent and Baylor by 6.5 percent.
“UTSA has absorbed a 10 percent reduction in state funds over the current biennium, primarily through reducing expenditures and overhead,” said Associate Vice President for Financial Affairs Janet Parker.
“As the university has continued to grow both in student enrollment and research and facilities, there has been limited growth of overhead commensurate with the workload required to accommodate that growth. UTSA’s institutional budget has increased almost 60 percent over the past 6 years, but overhead expenditure as a percentage of total expenditures has decreased. “
Coupled with growing operating expenses, additional state budget cuts could mean further fiscal strain on universities state-wide in the near future. Some estimate that the Texas state deficit is as high as $25 billion dollars.
As the commencement of the 82nd Texas Legislative session approaches on Jan. 11, school officials must consider how the shortage could further affect the university’s financial affairs.
The extent of impact remains indefinite until the legislative session concludes this May.
“Right now we’re at a standstill,” Parker said. “We expect that by next month the legislature will issue the first budget bill. That will be the starting point for all state agencies.”
Vice President for Business Affairs, Kerry Kennedy anticipates that the approaching legislative session will result in significant discussions and debate regarding future tuition increases.
Tuition increases for UTSA can only be implemented at the discretion of the UT System’s Board of Regents and administrators are unable to confirm whether students can expect to see additional increase in coming years.
According to Kennedy, the Fall 2010 increase did not negatively impact student applications or enrollment and the preliminary numbers for Spring 2011 are promising. He states that UTSA has become a local first-choice university for high school graduates and community college transfer students, and he does not expect that interest in the school will decrease as a result of marginally higher costs.
The national tuition and fee average for full-time students at public four-year universities is $7,605 for the 2010-2011 school year.
UTSA tuition and fees for a full-time student taking 15 hours of coursework are well below this figure, at $3,951.
UTSA administrators understand the position of students who are faced with increasing rates for education and acknowledge that the university works diligently to ensure that funds are used with care.
“The President, Vice Presidents and Strategic Resource Planning Committee are committed to assuring allocations are made in accordance with the strategic plan and to improve the educational value of the university to its students,” said Parker.
Students have mixed reactions to paying higher rates on tuition and fees.
English major Stephanie Acosta views the issue from both sides.
“I’m okay with costs going up as long as the money is going to benefit students,” Acosta said. “When I first heard about it I thought it was unfair because it seemed like the price was going up just because. But now that I know about the reasons for the increase, I understand why they had to do it.”