University of Texas Rio Grande Valley officials completed a tuition plan that aims to do away with most mandatory fees and lock a rate for up to four years.
“We are really just trying to make the whole process a little simpler than how it’s been in the past,” said Martin Baylor, vice-president for finance and administration.
In September, Baylor was assigned by UTRGV President Guy Bailey to lead a task force that included staff and student government members from UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville. Their goal was to come up with rates that were affordable, transparent, predictable, and incentivizing, Baylor said.
The result was a series of five undergraduate tuition rate scenarios that cap at $3,665 for 12 credit hours for freshmen entering in the fall 2015 semester. Those who start at UTPA or UTB and earn up to 29 college hours are grandfathered into the new university at a guaranteed 12-credit hour rate of $3,605 per semester.
In these two scenarios, the price will be locked for four years, but the cost and guaranteed time will change according to the number of college credits earned prior to transferring to UTRGV.
Students transferring 30 to 59 credit hours will have a three-year rate of $3,545. For those with 60 to 89 credits, the price lowers to $3,425 for two years, and students with 90 credits or more will pay $3,305 for one year.
“The hope is that they will go ahead and complete their degree within those years,” Baylor said.
These prices will also apply for students taking more than 12 hours per semester, due to an “instant” rebate system. And those with extra credit hours who finish before their guaranteed time will be able to use that time toward graduate courses.
Master’s degree students will have a similar two-year guaranteed rate, while doctoral students will secure a price for four years.
The cost for undergraduate courses is slightly higher than UTPA and UTB, which had some of the state’s lowest tuition costs ranging from $3,000 to $3,100 for students taking up to 15 credit hours. But according to a UTRGV study, the new prices are still lower than 20 other institutions in the state.
About a year ago, UT System officials required all its universities to apply similar guaranteed rates, but not every institution was using it as a mandatory program, Baylor said.
“We really feel this is an important element to create a predictable cost of education,” he said.
The proposal has already been presented to some students during several forums last November, Baylor said. But he wants prospective students to know it can still change according to the UT System Board of Regents’ suggestions before approval, which he hopes will come by early summer.
“I think it was received very positively by the students in the forums,” he said. “I feel very comfortable with it. I think it’s a very good plan.”