Last September, Provost John Frederick — along with a tuition and fees committee represented by students and faculty — held two meetings to discuss the possible implementation of a five percent tuition increase for part time students, students taking fewer than 12 credit hours.
According to meeting attendee and former Student Government Association treasurer Boyd Garriot, “the proposal itself was designed and proposed by (Tuition and Fees Committee) to incentivize students to graduate in four years as an attempt to assist in the Graduation Rate Improvement Plan (GRIP).”
Implemented in 2011, GRIP is a plan to increase the four-year graduation retention rate of UTSA to 25 percent by 2021. By making part-time attendance more expensive the tuition and fees committee hopes existing part-time students will become full-time students to avoid the fee, thus increasing the graduation rate.
“The issue with this increase,” explains Garriot, “is the increase in costs for part-time students. Often, students are part-time because they don’t have the money to attend school full time. Because of this, the plan essentially hurts our students that often need the most help.”
If approved by the UT System Board of Regents, the proposal would affect a large proportion of the student population. As of 2012, two-thirds of UTSA students were enrolled part time — suggesting that the school is used largely as a commuter campus. However, that reputation is being challenged.
In 2013, UTSA significantly increased its requirements for guaranteed admission. Under the new standards, students may be automatically accepted only if they graduated in the top 25 percent of their class or have an SAT of 1100 or ACT of 24 — up from 960 and 20 respectively.
Additionally, only 60 percent of the applicant pool was accepted — the lowest of all sister schools in the UT system. Tuition has also increased to $4,368.65 a semester, up from $3,946.00 in 2010.
As a result of the new standards, the 2013 freshman class is considered to be more intelligent, prepared and motivated than any other in the history of the university — 68 percent of them were in the top quarter of their high school class. To many of them, UTSA was their first choice.
By proposing a tuition increase for part-time students and not full-time students, UTSA will be investing in the traditional college student, who is more likely to propel UTSA to Tier One status.
While still serving as the treasurer of the SGA, Garriot helped author a resolution encouraging the UT System to abolish the Coordinated Admission Program, a major contributor to UTSA’s low retention and graduation rates. However, he believed the decision to penalize part-time students will do more harm than good. “I don’t think minor savings on a per class basis will have a substantial effect on encouraging full-time students anyways. I do, however, think it will take a toll on the working students.”