Regents approve tuition rates for UTRGV

AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved a tuition plan for UT Rio Grande Valley today that eliminates traditional student fees and provides guaranteed tuition rates aimed to benefit students and their families.

The tuition plan, developed by a task force comprised of UTRGV staff and prospective students, is structured to promote student access and success, while ensuring affordability, transparency and predictability.

“Those were our goals and our guiding principles during this entire process,” said UTRGV President Guy Bailey. “I wanted students to know exactly what they were going to pay – not be surprised by hidden fees or added costs as if often the case – to be able to plan their future knowing the price would remain the same as long as they graduate on time, and to know we will do everything in our power to keep a college education affordable and accessible for them, while providing them with a world-class learning experience.”

As of this week, UTRGV has admitted more than 3,600 freshmen, Bailey said, and 86 percent of them were offered financial aid packages that cover 100 percent of their tuition and fees.

“The complete restructuring of tuition and fees triggered additional needs-based funding,” Bailey said. “That allows us to completely cover college costs for most of our incoming freshmen and I could not be happier about that.”

The proposal approved by Regents mandates a guaranteed tuition plan for undergraduate students that encourages a timely path to graduation. Students continuing their education from UT Brownsville or UT Pan American will be assessed rates based on their college start and prior hours earned.

For example, continuing students with 90 completed credit hours or more will receive a one-year guaranteed rate; students with between 60 and 89 hours will receive a two-year guaranteed rate; those with between 30 and 59 credits will receive a three-year guaranteed rate; and those with 29 credit hours or less will receive a four-year guaranteed rate. Incoming freshmen and students that began college during the 2014-15 academic year are also eligible for a four-year guaranteed rate, regardless of college credit already earned.

For graduate students, those pursuing a master’s degree will be provided a two-year guarantee and doctoral students will operate under a four-year guarantee. If a student completes his or her bachelor’s degree ahead of schedule, they are eligible to apply the unused guarantee plan time toward graduate school.

Tuition rates will be capped at 12 hours, meaning a student taking a course load larger than 12 credit hours will incur no additional tuition charges.

UTRGV has set aside roughly $4 million to minimize the impact of a tuition increase, continuing the legacy of affordable access to higher education in the region. Although the average undergraduate financial aid applicant would incur a Fall 2015 out-of-pocket increase of $285 over the Fall 2014 rates, the institution will develop a program so that no students with family incomes below a certain level are faced with out-of-pocket costs for tuition and fees. Also, a summer bridge program is being deployed to help ensure that all college-worthy students are prepared for university work.

Bailey expects that the majority of UTRGV students will pay nothing in tuition or fees, with the cost covered through means such as the Federal Pell Grant program, the TEXAS Grant program and institutional funds.

The board approved rates for Fall 2015 for resident undergraduate students ranging from $3,305 for students with 90 credits or more under the one-year guaranteed program to $3,665 for incoming freshmen under the four-year guaranteed plan.

A complete list of tuition rates presented to the Board of Regents is posted online.

UTRGV will not have mandatory athletic, library, information technology, advising, international education or registration fees, as is customary. In order to charge the same rate across all modes of instruction, UTRGV will not establish an add-on charge for online education. Bailey and his team are also forgoing a number of incidental fees normally assessed by institutions such as the General Property Deposit, application fees, diploma replacement fees and class add/drop fees.

There is also no additional cost for credits incoming freshmen may have earned through dual-enrollment programs – meaning many students could graduate in less than four years and substantially reduce the cost of their degree.

“We know that time in school contributes substantially toward student debt,” Bailey said. “We want to pave the way and provide the support for our students to graduate in a timely manner.”

UT Rio Grande Valley was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 in a historic move that will combine the resources and assets of UT Brownsville, UT Pan American and the Regional Academic Health Center and, for the first time, make it possible for residents of the Rio Grande Valley to benefit from the Permanent University Fund, a public endowment contributing support to eligible institutions of the UT System and the Texas A&M University System. UTRGV will welcome its inaugural freshman class in August 2015.

“It is amazing how much has been accomplished in a relatively short time and I am honored to once again play a role in something that is nothing short of historic for our state,” said Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster. “We are less than three months from opening the doors to a new UT institution and this tuition plan delivers on our promise to our current and future students.”

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and an enrollment of more than 213,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $15.6 billion (FY 2015) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 90,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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