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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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UT System Regents approve guaranteed tuition plan

AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved a four-year guaranteed tuition plan to be implemented as a tuition option at all nine academic institutions in the fall of 2014.

The Board’s Academic Affairs Committee approved the move Wednesday, and the full Board of Regents gave its approval Thursday morning.

A student participating in a guaranteed tuition plan would pay a fixed tuition rate for four years, regardless of whether tuition had increased during those four years. UT Dallas and UT El Paso already have guaranteed tuition plans in place.

“It’s a fixed cost, so families will know exactly what they’ll be paying for the next four years, and they’ll be able to plan better,” Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Pedro Reyes said. “That’s one of the biggest attractions of this program.”

Regents Chairman Gene Powell said guaranteed tuition is an important option for students and their families, both to help with financial planning and to encourage on-time graduation.

“Guaranteeing a low, stable and manageable tuition for all students is a goal of Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s Framework for Advancing Excellence, which the Board unanimously supported,” Powell said. “College access and affordability are critically important issues and we want to provide a fixed tuition option in order to create a smoother financial road to a college degree for Texas students.”  

Serving as an incentive for students to graduate in four years, guaranteeing tuition could ultimately lead to potential cost savings. UT Dallas, which moved to a guaranteed tuition plan in the fall of 2007, has already seen positive effects.

The four-year graduation rate for UT Dallas students who entered college in the fall of 2006 was 44.9 percent, compared to 50.6 percent for students who entered college in the fall of 2008. It is among the higher four-year graduation rates in the state.

UT Dallas President David Daniel told Regents the guaranteed tuition is just one piece of a comprehensive effort to significantly increase the university’s four-year graduation rate, but it is definitely a contributing factor, and is helping families plan ahead.

“We can make the cost of tuition predictable,” he said. “We wanted to find another way to help families afford a college education.”

Each UT institution will set tuition amounts, and students and parents will be able to choose whether to participate in the guaranteed tuition plan, Reyes said.

Several other public institutions of higher education already have implemented guaranteed tuition programs, including the University System of Georgia, the University of Illinois System, Arizona State University, the University of Kansas and the University of Colorado Boulder.

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 a fall 2012 enrollment of roughly 216,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state’s health care professionals annually. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $13.9 billion (FY 2013) including $3.1 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 87,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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