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Loftin recommends fee increase

President forgoes designated tuition increase option, requests new ‘student success fee’

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07

A&M President R. Bowen Loftin did not request an increase in designated tuition Friday at a meeting with the Texas A&M System Financial Committee, as was expected and recommended by the Tuition and Fee Advisory Committee. However, Loftin did request an increase in differential tuition for the College of Education and Human Development, four mandatory fee increases and an additional student success fee, according to Jason Cook, vice president of marketing and communications for A&M.

Earlier this semester, Loftin announced that the Tuition and Fee Advisory Committee recommended a 3.95 percent designated tuition increase with no increases in student fees. This increase was meant to finance merit raises for University faculty, who have been without raises for more than two years.

“I think everyone realizes that to be competitive, we do have to do raises,” said Fernando Trevino, senior political science major and student regent. “These are just discussions right now on what is the most appropriate way to finance those raises.”

Trevino said he could not comment about the types of proposals being discussed to finance faculty merit raises.

“There just is not a general agreement as to how to do [merit raises] or the best way to provide that financing,” Trevino said.

The four mandatory fee increase requests made by Loftin to the board of regents were the computer access/instructional technology fee, library use fee, student recreation center fee and University Writing Center fee. The first two fees are per semester credit hour, while the latter two are per semester fees, not dependent on credit hours. The total requested increase for a student enrolled in 15 credit hours is $43.58. The differential tuition increase would add $300 per semester for full-time students in the College of Education.

Loftin also recommended creating a “student success fee.” It was not immediately clear what the explicit application of the fee would be, but Loftin’s proposal indicated it would be used to improve student success, reduce bottlenecks limiting degree progress and retain the best employees — indicating a possibility for faculty merit raises.

If approved by the board, the University would reduce or remove some fees that students currently pay and pool those finances to afford the new student success fee.

“Dr. Loftin is looking to analyze all the current mandatory fees and reduce certain fees to go to a student success fee,’’ Cook said.

Cook said the amount of the Student Success Fee is undetermined at this point, but added that the net impact would result in no additional cost to students. He said that University administrators would decide in the coming weeks which fees to reduce to offset the student success fee increase.

Loftin’s presentation qualified that authority over the Student Success Fee would be granted to the board of regents.

Former Student Body President Jeff Pickering, who was a member of the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board, said fees are restricted monies and that tuition has been the only way to finance faculty salaries.

“I thought [Loftin’s proposal] was interesting. It’s not what we were preparing for,” Pickering said. “I understand that he is constantly at work with the board. Sometimes they do things that you don’t necessarily see coming.”

Board Chairman Richard Box reacted to the recommendation through a prepared statement.

“I am pleased to see that our presidents … are balancing their priorities and remain focused on excellence and efficiency in education,” Box said.

 

Correction: An earlier edition incorrectly calculated fee request increases for the Student Recreation Center and University Writing Center fees per semester credit hour instead of per semester.

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