The UT System Board of Regents unanimously approved a tuition increase and the plan to build a new $26 million faculty support building Thursday.
A 2.6% tuition increase for UT System academic campuses, including UTA, will go into effect in the 2021-2022 fiscal years, which start next fall. UTA undergraduate students in the College of Engineering and in College of Nursing and Health Innovation will get an extra bump in costs to support the higher expenditures of those programs, UTA spokesperson Joe Carpenter said in an email.
Chancellor James Milliken said the increase would maintain affordability, high quality and cost containment across UT System academic campuses.
Milliken said he worked with academic presidents to discuss necessary tuition rate increases. The system’s tuition rates are still competitive for undergraduate and graduate students on the national level, he said.
“It is our interest always to continue to maintain the affordability of our institutions for Texas students and their families,” Milliken said. “And to provide for our institutions to address those needs so that they are provided the best quality education possible.”
A 7% rate increase applied to a four-year guaranteed tuition rate plan will take effect for new students next fall. The plan guarantees students the same tuition every year for four years, if they wish to enroll in it.
Chairman Kevin Eltife said the regents were concerned about the impact of tuition increase on students.
“It’s a balancing act; it’s never easy,” Eltife said. “We take it extremely serious at this board because we know that $20 a month more to anybody, to some of these families, is a lot of money.”
Student Regent Daniel Dominguez, who cannot vote, implored the regents to not forget the student’s point of view. He said he could not support the increased rate because most students already struggle to pay for their education.
Dominguez encouraged students to reach out to their respective financial aid offices to see what aid is available to them.
While campuses use the increase for important projects, he asked for UT System campuses to think of initiatives that could make education more affordable.
“I want to see some accountability in a couple of years,” he said. “I would like to see them reporting to the board what it is that they did with these increases.”
Eltife said the UT System Financial Offices is in the process of making a five-year financial plan, which will be brought to the board at a later date. The plan will help the board and institutions look at future financial needs.
The board also passed an amendment to the Capital Improvement Program to include construction of a new three-story building that will replace Trinity House at UTA. It was recommended by the Facilities Planning and Construction committee and is planned for utilization by faculty and support services.
Various faculty departments such as the Office of Information Technology and Center for Research on Teaching and Learning Excellence will be housed in the building, he said. It will free existing spaces for research and faculty and student use.
According to the meeting agenda, the total cost of the project will be about $26 million with $17 million in construction costs. Approval of design and funds will be presented to the board in a later meeting, but the project is anticipated to be complete by January 2021.
Contracts between UTA and six construction companies and one architecture firm were also approved.