Dallas-Fort Worth universities propose tuition hikes for 2010-11

Area university officials are proposing tuition increases from 3.95 percent to 5 percent for the next school year, and some schools may increase costs the following year.

At the University of North Texas, President Gretchen Bataille sent a message to students recommending a 5 percent increase, though UNT spokeswoman Kelley Reese said Tuesday that the proposed increase could change. Texas Woman's University in Denton is considering a 4.9 percent hike.

The University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Texas at Arlington have both proposed increases of 3.95 percent, in line with what UT-Austin proposed.

University of Texas System regents are expected to decide in March whether to approve the increases for UT-Austin, UT-Arlington and UT-Dallas. UNT System regents meet Thursday, while Texas Woman's regents are scheduled to vote Feb. 19.

Texas Woman's, like many universities, is facing a likely reduction in state dollars and no more federal stimulus funds.

"We have to begin to make up some of that," said Brenda Floyd, vice president for finance and administration.

State legislators filed bills last year to limit tuition increases at major public universities to 5 percent in response to concerns about rapidly rising college costs. Though the efforts died, the House passed a nonbinding resolution asking that universities raise tuition no more than 3.95 percent or a figure based on the consumer price and education price indexes over the past three years.

UNT's Bataille wrote that the 5 percent increase for 2010-11 would allow the university to:

Hire more faculty to help ensure a student-to-faculty ratio of 22:1.

Pursue research goals.

Increase support services so the school can attract and retain the best possible students.

Add new buildings and maintain existing facilities to accommodate increasing enrollments.

Meet student financial aid needs.

Provide raises from a 1 percent salary pool.

The tuition and fee increase would grow to 7.6 percent for the 2011-12 school year, in part because of a fee that students approved in 2008 for a new $78 million football stadium. UT-Arlington's tuition and fees increase expands to 4.6 percent in 2011-12 because of a fee approved by students in 2005 for a special events center, officials said. Texas Woman's proposal is only for next year.

Dakota Carter, UNT's student body president, said his sense is that most students view the proposed increase as a "necessary evil."

"We're having to raise money again," said Carter, who will attend medical school in the fall. "The fact is that if we don't, we're not going to be competitive."

Some schools have created provisions that limit tuition increases for current students. Under UT-Dallas' Guaranteed Tuition Plan, rates for students who enrolled in 2008 and 2009 will remain the same next year. Students who enrolled in 2007 and who remain enrolled after four years will be transferred onto the rate plan applicable to fall 2008, UT-Dallas officials said.

Private schools, meanwhile, have proposed tuition increases of at least 6 percent. Texas Christian University's tuition will increase 6.2 percent for 2010-11, to $30,000 for a full-time undergraduate. Baylor University's is rising 6.5 percent, to $26,966 for the next school year.

GENE TRAINOR, 817-390-7419

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