The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is facing two challenges that seem to be diametrically opposed to each other. One is the strong concern to keep tuition and fees affordable for students. In this effort, UTPB has the lowest tuition and fees in the State. The other challenge is the University’s ability to provide programs and services to a diverse and growing student population with a budget that has seen minimal growth.
The size of the student body has doubled and the following academic programs have been added in the past 15 years. Those are BA Music, BS in Information Systems, BS in Industrial Technology, BS in Mechanical Engineering, BS in Petroleum Engineering, BA in Applied Sciences, BS in Criminal Justice, BS in Social Work, BS in Athletic Training, BS in Nursing, MA in Spanish and MA in Mathematics. The size of the student body has more than doubled over this time with a current enrollment of 6,117.
The Tuition and Fees Committee of The Permian Basin has met, discussed and is presenting the following tuition and fee considerations for tuition and fee increases. A proposal will be submitted to President Watts at the end of the month.
Designated Tuition is assessed based on the number of hours in which a student enrolls. Designated tuition has not been increased since Fall 2012. As we know, particularly with the local economy, the cost of living has increased dramatically recently. An increase in funding is needed to attract and retain qualified faculty and staff. The committee is considering increasing designated tuition at 5%, 7.5% and 10% for academic year 16-17 and 5% to 7.5% for academic year 17-18. A 7.5% increase would result in additional tuition of $106 for student enrolled in 12 hours for 2016-2017 and an additional $114 for 2017-2018. Even with the increase, UTPB will have near if not the lowest tuition in the State.
Student Service fees support areas that enhance the atmosphere of the campus and provide extracurricular opportunities for learning. This includes leadership skills learned from working with other student groups and individuals to attending programs that may challenge our thoughts and beliefs. Student service fees do not support athletics or the operation of the Student Activities Center. As the student body grows in diversity, needs and interests it is important to expand. Student service fees are assessed based on hours of enrollment and have not increased since Fall 2010. Inflation, particularly in this region, means the fees are not providing the same level of programs and service as it could prior to 2010. In fact, many budgets funded by student services fees were negatively adjusted this academic year. The committee proposes a 10% increase in the student service fees for 2016-2017 and 0% increase for 2017-2018. This would equate to an increase of $20.25 per semester for a student who is enrolled in 12 hours.
As mentioned above, the number of programs offered and the number of students served has dramatically increased. However, the Library fee of $3 per credit hour has not changed since 2002. During that time, the University has received AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), ABET (Accreditation for Engineering & Technology) for Petroleum and Mechanical Engineering, CAEP (Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education), CAATE (Commission on Accreditation of Educator Preparation), CSWE (Council on Social Work Education), NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design), NASM (National Association of Schools of Music) and SBEC (State Board for Educator Certification) accreditations. These accreditations assure students of the quality of the academic programs. The Library strives to provide resources to support all faculty and staff research. As mentioned before, it is difficult to maintain quality when competing with growing economy. The committee proposes a Library fee increase from $3 to $5.50 per hour for 16-17 with no increase proposed for 17-18.
All new undergraduate students receive initial academic advising from the Academic Advising Center. Most freshman and sophomore students and many juniors and seniors are advised by the Academic Advising fee. Currently, students pay $10 per semester for academic advising. The committee proposes a 10% increase of the Advising Fee, raising it to $11 per student per semester for 2016-2017..
The Student Activities Center opened in Fall 2010. In order to build the center, students passed a referendum in support of $150 per semester to support the building. This funding is not adequate to support the operation and renovations of the facility. With the upcoming addition of the Residence and Dining Hall, the current food server will need to be reconfigured to accommodate individual point of sale stations. The committee proposes a 10% in this fee to support upkeep and renovation for 2016-2017.
Student enrolled in online courses are assessed a distance education fee of $55 per credit hour. This fee supports the creation and maintenance of online courses and hybrid courses, student support services and extracurricular programs. The committee is considering a 5% increase for 2016-2017 which would result in an additional $8.25 per 3 hour course.
All Texas universities offer a guaranteed tuition which guarantees tuition and fees for four years. The current guaranteed rate per semester is $3711. The committee is considering a guaranteed rate of $4250 for 2016-2017 through 2019-2020 of $4250 and $4400 for 2017-2021. Both of these rates would provide a projected savings of approximately $3000, assuming the student completes 30 hours each year while maintaining a 2.5 grade point average.
The committee recognizes that this is a sizable change in regard to tuition and fees. However, tuition and fees have remained relatively stagnant for four years in order to keep UTPB very affordable. UTPB is committed to remaining one of the lowest in the state in regard to cost to the student. The increases in tuition, student services fees, library fee, advising fee and Student Activity Center fee as mentioned above would increase total tuition and fees approximately $141 for 2016-2017 and an additional $117 for 2017-2018. It is merely coincidence that these fee considerations are taking place with the establishment of football. Football is funded through the Athletics fee, which has not proposed fee increase, and community financial support. The change in enrollment and the need to provide innovative programs and services to the diverse student body indicate that adjustments are appropriate and will be beneficial at this time.