UNT plan could shave thousands off tuition over 4 years

03/20/2014 4:52 PM

03/20/2014 4:54 PM

The University of North Texas adopted a tuition plan Thursday aimed at encouraging students to graduate on time and save money.

Under the Eagle Express tuition plan, students lock in tuition for four years starting next fall. They also get a potential perk — a $3,000 tuition discount for completing coursework within four years. Some students also will be eligible for a $1,000 rebate from the state of Texas.

That’s a potential $4,000 saved for 2018 UNT graduates who enroll in the plan.

“Sometimes a good business plan and idea come together,” UNT President Neal Smatresk said, adding that information will be hitting billboards across Texas, including the North Texas, Austin and Houston areas.

The university already has a sales pitch: “Above the rest for thousands less.”

The UNT System Board of Regents approved the tuition plan 9-0 during a meeting conducted via conference call. The board oversees the flagship campus in Denton as well as the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth and the University of North Texas at Dallas.

The Eagle Express plan, which only applies to the Denton campus, was one of two plans approved Thursday, Smatresk said. Regents also approved a traditional plan that doesn’t include the incentive.

Smatresk said he wants parents and students to study the numbers.

Total academic costs, including various fees, for an incoming freshmen would be $42,744 for four years under the traditional plan. The same costs on the Eagle Express plan are $38,691.

Under both plans, students and families will know tuition costs in advance and rates are set for the next four years.

Under Eagle Express, students will have a 10 percent tuition increase starting in fall 2014 that is locked in for four years. In the traditional plan, students get a 3.9 percent tuition increase each year for four years starting in fall 2014.

The idea for the incentive plan evolved from UNT’s efforts to comply with House Bill 29, a law approved in the last legislative session that requires Texas’ public universities to provide a fixed tuition price plan for undergraduate students.

Smatresk said UNT decided to take things further.

Besides encouraging students to graduate in four years, the incentive plan forces the university to get better at providing accurate graduation plans and improving academic advising and counseling, he said.

Zachary Brown, president of UNT’s Student Government Association, said students appear to be open to the plans.

“I think that the different tuition plans are great in that they offer dedicated, motivated students an even bigger incentive to finish their degrees in a timely manner,” Brown said. “Students have seemed receptive to the plans so far, but the real seller for the new tuition plans lie in how it will be presented to incoming students.”

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