How Tuition is Set
The Texas Legislature in 2003 gave universities the authority to set their own tuition rates. (Learn more about tuition deregulation.) Tuition costs for Texas residents are among the lowest of all 50 states. Nonresident tuition costs compare favorably with those of other institutions. Because state funding has not been able to keep up with rising costs, The University of Texas at Austin formed a Tuition Policy Advisory Committee in 2003 to recommend to the president a tuition policy that addresses the critical academic and financial needs of the university. In developing its recommendations, the committee conducts public hearings, creates an informational Web site and seeks the involvement of families, students, faculty and many other constituencies. The president reviews the recommendations and forwards the proposal to the University of Texas System Board of Regents, which approves tuition and fee rates for the next years.
Committees Making Tuition Recommendations
Tuition Policy Advisory Committee
The principal purpose of the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) is to recommend to the president on a biennial basis the amount of tuition needed to fund the university's forecasted core academic budget, which includes expenses such as salaries, utilities and college programs. The committee makes specific recommendations for undergraduate and graduate tuition rates for the next two years. (The rates for the professional law, business and pharmacy schools are set in consultation with the Provost’s Office rather than TPAC, but they must be approved by the Board of Regents.) The deans, with appropriate student and faculty consultation, may request additional funding for their individual colleges and schools. The committee may also comment on key policy assumptions incorporated in the budget forecast. While it is desirable that a single recommendation be developed by consensus, the committee may make majority and minority recommendations.
The committee's recommendation is submitted in writing to the president. After receiving the report, the president shares it with the university community and holds at least one public forum to hear public comment. Then the president meets with the committee to discuss the public's response. He or she takes the committee's recommendation and the public's response under consideration but retains the discretion to make changes to the proposal that he or she believes to be in the best interests of the university. The president submits the final tuition proposal to the Board of Regents, and the recommendation of the committee accompanies the final proposal.
Annually, the committee reviews a multi-year operating and capital budget forecast that is provided by the chief financial officer and the budget director. This update provides a comprehensive financial picture and focuses principally on significant changes to the previous year's forecast.Each forecast incorporates revenue assumptions (tuition, Available University Fund, etc.) and includes as a separate item projections for tuition revenue. In the off years when the committee does not make a recommendation, the tuition projection is based on the most recent tuition rates that have been approved by the Board of Regents. In the years that the committee does make a recommendation, the forecast may include additional tuition income based on the committee's recommended tuition rates. The forecast also includes key recommended expense and policy assumptions, including salary programs, anticipated changes in student enrollment, number of faculty, repair, renovation and capital improvement needs.
Non-Voting Advisory Members
Student Services Budget Committee
The Student Services Fee Committee, now known as the Student Services Budget Committee (SSBC), is mandated by Subchapter B, Section 54.514 of the Texas Education Code to “advise the administration of The University of Texas at Austin on the type, level and expenditure of compulsory fees for student services collected at the university.” The non-academic services funded by Student Service Fees are an important aspect in a student’s educational experience on campus.
Tuition policy at The University of Texas at Austin has undergone dynamic changes in recent years. A change in policy often will require a change in practice. Consequently, the committee modified its practices to adapt to these recent changes in the tuition culture on campus.
The student voice in determining the tuition rate for non-academic services is a valued aspect of budget-setting process on the campus. For example, the Texas Education Code mandates that the committee be a student-majority committee, where five of nine voting members must be students.
2012-13 Voting Members
Access prior years’ SSBC membership and documents.