UNT outlines proposed fee, tuition hikes

By: Jessamy Brown, Staff Writer
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Tuesday, March 22, 2005

DENTON - Few students turn out to hear details of plans to increase tuition and fees at the university next year.

Tuition and fees at the University of North Texas will likely increase 4.48 percent next school year to help cover raises, utilities and other costs.

Under the plan, a full-time Texas undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours would pay $1,965 a semester for tuition, up 6.5 percent from $1,845 this semester, under the plan. Students would pay about another $900 in fees per semester.

"We cannot allow basic services to our students to start degenerating. When you look at our overall budget of the university, it's a very modest increase," said Phil Diebel, UNT's vice president for finance and business affairs.

Last year, tuition increased 24 percent from the previous year. UNT's tuition increase follows other state colleges and universities.

UNT officials presented their recommended increase Monday at a public hearing for a handful of students. The nine-member UNT Board of Regents is scheduled to vote Wednesday whether to approve the increase, which would generate about $4.8 million.

Room and board fees at the 31,000-student university are also expected to increase, but officials would not release figures pending the regents' meeting.

UNT President Norval Pohl said the proposed tuition increase is needed because of higher operating expenses, including employee benefits and utilities. Administrators plan to give faculty pay raises and add new staff, including in the financial aid and admissions offices. The university will use $888,000 for scholarships.

The state no longer provides funding based on enrollment, so public universities are turning to students to make up the difference -- an option provided when the Legislature deregulated tuition at state schools.

The state and the university each have a role in setting tuition. The state has capped its portion of the rate at $50 per credit hour for 2005-06, a $2 increase from this year.

Before deregulation, public colleges and universities could set their portion no higher than the state's. Schools can now set their portion as high as they like.

Andrew Tinker, a sophomore music major from Flower Mound, attended the meeting.

"I'm not angry at UNT. I just want the powers that be at UNT to be careful with our money," he said. "You might want to consider what's going to happen in the long run, because when I'm a senior, I'm going to be paying gross amounts of money."

On March 10, University of Texas System Regents approved a 4.75 percent increase for tuition and fee increases at UT Austin. With mandatory fees, it will cost a UT-Austin undergraduate $3,523 to take 15 semester credit hours.

Tuition proposals for UT-Arlington and UT-Dallas were not considered because UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof sent them back to the campuses for revision.

In November, regents at Texas Woman's University approved a 13 percent increase in undergraduate tuition. A full-time undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours will pay $1,845 per semester in 2005-06, up from $1,635 a semester this year. Fees will also increase.

The increase is needed to cover expenses and proposed faculty raises at the university, which has campuses in Denton, Dallas and Houston, said Brenda Floyd, Texas Woman's University vice president for finance and administration.

"We don't know what we are going to need, but we have to be prepared with some increased revenue," she said.

Jessamy Brown, (817) 685-3876 jessamybrown AT star-telegram.com