The University of Texas at Brownsville administration received pushback from students on Thursday during a meeting where students told them they were against the nearly 7 percent tuition increase for the next academic year.
The University of Texas Board of Regents have the final say on tuition increases on one of the eight campuses and won’t make a decision until a future meeting, said Rosemary Martinez, vice president of Business Affairs.
During a presentation to students, Martinez explained that UTB has the lowest tuition for a Texas university and the additional $2.3 million that would be raised would help fund student programs.
Another portion will fund scholarships for summer courses.
The tuition increase would also put UTB on par with the cost of attending UT-Pan American. While Martinez declined to answer questions after Thursday’s meeting she has previously stated that granting the increase would be a step in moving toward the new school, UT Rio Grande Valley.
“There’s been lots of discussion and planning to determine how UTB and UTPA will move forward into UT-RGV,” Martinez previously told the Brownsville Herald. “Our tuition and fees, although they are very similar, they are not exact. We have had discussion not only with this group but other working groups. The question came up — should we be doing that? Now we’ve been having conversations with working to equalize some tuition and fees.”
Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, a spokeswoman for the University of Texas System, reiterated on Thursday that one campus’s tuition does not determine the others.
“There’s no connection between UTB tuition and UTPA tuition. That discussion about what tuition will be at UT-RGV has not begun,” LaCoste-Caputo said.
While tuition proposals were due on Wednesday, LaCoste-Caputo said the UT System decided to give their institutions more time to gather more campus input — a choice that was given to all eight schools.
LaCoste-Caputo said she could not say whether a seven percent increase was too high and had no way of determining whether the Board of Regents would approve it.
“The most important point here is that those three are independent decisions,” LaCoste-Caputo added. There has also not been any directive given from the UT System for UTB and UTPA to align tuition and fees.
One student, Angela Ruiz, said it was unfair to charge students more when the university is not up to par with other schools in the state.
“I’m not willing to pay up when I don’t have everything I need from the university,” Ruiz, 23, said. “When it comes to the merger when it becomes an actual university, that’s when you raise the tuition.”
Administration would take more than $700,000 to expand the Link2Sucess program. The remainder would go toward scholarships.
Several students responded they did not agree with funding programs like Link2Success that do not benefit all students and because it’s unclear whether the program will continue to exist under UT-RGV.
Martinez noted that UTB will continue to operate as a separate institution until UT-RGV begins offering classes in fall 2015.
Ruiz, an art education major, said she pays for her schooling with the Federal Pell Grant Program and is afraid it won’t be enough to cover the cost of the proposed tuition increase.
“To even consider raising tuition in a city like this is unthinkable,” Ruiz said.
Another campus meeting is scheduled from 1 to 2 p.m. today at the Biomedical Research and Health Professions Building.