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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Tuition and the Law

2. UT Tuition Proposals for 2013-2014

3. Tuition: How Does UT Compare?

4. Tuition and the Value of Education

5. Tuition Plan Alternatives

Did You Know That...

UT students were awarded more than $1.3 billion from federal, state, and private-sector sources for grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs in 20010-11.

6. Access & Affordability: Financial Aid

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1. Tuition and the Law

What are the different types of tuition?

There are two types of tuition. The first is referred to as statutory tuition. The statutory tuition rate is set by the Texas Legislature. For the 2011-12 academic year the rate is $750 for the average resident undergraduate student taking 15 semester credit hours.

The second type of tuition is designated tuition. House Bill 3015 in the 78th Legislature in 2003 authorized university governing boards the flexibility to "charge any student an amount designated as tuition that the governing board considers necessary for the effective operation of the institution."

In addition to tuition, all students enrolling in higher education institutions in the state are assessed certain fees.

Usually fees are referred to as mandatory, compulsory, optional or incidental. Mandatory or compulsory fees are paid by all students. Incidental, optional, other fees and charges are voluntary and paid by some students depending on their degree program or other services that the student selects. For institutions with flat rate tuition, such as UT Austin, designated tuition and required fees are combined.


How does tuition flexibility improve Texas universities?

With tuition flexibility, universities may use flexible rates as a means to achieve important strategic goals, such as improved graduation rates, better use of facilities and improved academic programs. Governing boards may set tuition rates at a level that allows for the effective operation of the institution, and they may set variable tuition rates for different programs and course levels. The variable rates allow for the consideration of market factors and strategic needs.


Does tuition flexibility affect the Texas Tomorrow Fund?

TexasTuition Promise Fund, a higher education investment mechanism under the Texas Tomorrow Fund, is open to enrollment year-round. The Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan, which guaranteed tuition rates, is currently closed for enrollment. However, the law provides that existing contracts under the guaranteed tuition plan will be honored. Any increases in tuition will not jeopardize those existing contracts.


How are higher education institutions held accountable?

The Legislature provided that, as a condition of tuition deregulation, institutions make satisfactory progress toward the State's Closing the Gaps initiative. Each institution must meet acceptable performance criteria in graduation rates, retention rates, enrollment growth, educational quality, minority participation, and in other areas. In addition, since 2002 the UT System has had a model Accountability program to measure the effectiveness of its institutions.


What are the requirements for tuition set-asides for financial assistance?

Any new designated tuition above the previous cap of $46 per semester credit hour requires at least a 20% set-aside. Of this 20%, 5% goes to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for a new, forgivable loan program called the Texas "B-on-Time" Student Loan Program.

The UT System is committed to setting tuition at a level that enables low- and middle-income families to afford a high quality education for their sons and daughters.


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2. UT Tuition Proposals for 2013-2014

How are the nine UT academic campuses developing tuition plans?

Each campus in the UT System developed a plan which included consulting with students and other constituencies before making a recommendation for new tuition rates. The consultation plans vary from campus to campus, but all plans include the appointment of a tuition advisory committee, public/community open forums, various kinds of surveys, and other general input. Constituencies whose counsel is sought include student organizations, individual students, academic deans, alumni associations, faculty governance groups, staff council representatives, and others.

Issues considered include operating and capital budget forecasts, enrollment forecasts, faculty strength, repair and renovation needs, and financial aid needs.  


Will all of the UT System campuses have the same tuition rates?

No. "One size" does not fit all of the UT campuses. Each campus is different - some have more part-time students than others, some have facilities use issues some have larger numbers of students receiving financial aid. Every campus has a complete plan on tuition, on access and affordability (financial aid), and on taking advantage of the flexibility given by the Legislature.


Why are the tuition proposals for two academic terms?


UT students requested the move to two year proposals because they wanted to increase the predictability of their expenses.


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3. Tuition: How Does UT Compare?

How does UT's tuition compare to tuition at other states' public universities?

In 2007-2008 UT Austin was ranked number seven in a comparison of tuition and fees at the major public institiution in the 10 most populous states. Other UT campuses are consistently below most of their peer institutions.


Tuition and Required Fees at Major Public Institutions (2011-2012) for Residents and Non Residents


When did the UT System raise its tuition?

The first increases happened in Spring 2004. The UT System was the last of the state's university systems to study and propose new tuition rates. We are committed to full participation of students in the process of setting tuition. Our goal is to continue to keep the cost of education highly affordable, while using tuition flexibility to help provide needed resources and to meet strategic goals.


Why is tuition rising nationally at rates higher than the Consumer Price Index?

Higher education is more dependent on labor costs than is the economy in general. Since the 1980s, the proportion of state budgets going to the support of higher education has been declining. In Texas, tax dollars (General Revenue) account for only 17.9 percent of the total UT System budget. State general revenue funding per student continues to decline, increasing pressures for both efficiency and increased revenue from other sources such as tuition and fees.


What is the net average cost of tuition and fees per semester for UT students?

The net average cost per semester varies from campus to campus. See graphic for detailed answer.


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4. Tuition and the Value of Education

What is a college education worth today?

A bachelor's degree results in $1 million more in lifetime earnings than a high school diploma alone. A professional degree is worth more than $3 million more in lifetime earnings. Every dollar a family invests in education realizes an 18.7 percentreturn. See the College Board for more information.


What does tuition pay for? What is the difference between tuition and fees?

Tuition and state appropriations combine to pay for the core operational costs of the university such as the salaries of faculty, advisers, and other staff, and provides operational support. Fees are charged to provide specific services. Some fees, which are mandatory, are charged to all students and provide services available to every student, such as libraries and computer laboratories. Some fees are variable, either because they are attached to particular courses (e.g., for materials for a chemistry laboratory) or they are optional (such as parking fees).


What part of the overall UT budget is tuition?

Systemwide, tuition accounts for only 14.5 percent of the total UT System budget. Other sources of funds include state tax dollars; federal, state, and private-sector grants; and donations. Last fiscal year the UT System raised $566 million in donations from the private sector. Many, if not most, private donations are made for specific purposes and use of the money is restricted for those purposes.


Does tuition pay for all of the costs of education?

Higher education is a very labor-intensive operation. Of the total UT System expenditures, nearly 60 percent is for personnel costs, which includes the salaries and benefits for the 88,000 staff and faculty that support our 15 institutions.


How much does the State of Texas contribute to UT's overall budget?

State tax dollars (General Revenue) account for 17.9 percent of the total UT System budget. While that may seem a small percentage, it is actually the third largest single source of revenue, making it critical to the university's instructional mission.


What is the UT System doing to be more accountable to the public, parents and the Legislature?

In 2002 the UT System launched an Accountability program to measure the effectiveness of its institutions. This system will monitor progress across the whole spectrum of higher education functions - teaching, research and health care; services to communities; and organizational efficiency and productivity. This program expands on and improves long-standing accountability procedures that include numerous state and federal reports, an extensive auditing program and one of the nation's most advanced programs for ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.


Why can't more money be solicited from alumni and other donors so tuition won't have to be raised?

The UT System raised a record breaking $1.12 billion from donors, including alumni, last year. Much of those funds are designated for capital expenses and special programs, not the operating budget. All UT System campuses operate extensive fund-raising programs, but donations alone are not sufficient to meet operational needs.


Why can't money from the Permanent University Fund be used to reduce tuition?

The Texas Constitution limits how the Permanent University Fund, an endowment for the UT System and A&M University System, can be utilized. Income from PUF is placed in a fund called the Available University Fund. The Texas Constitution provides that this money can be used to help finance capital projects (such as construction of buildings) and to help support academic excellence at UT Austin, Texas A&M University at College Station, and Prairie View A&M University, as well as the costs of system administration. Without the resources of the PUF, tuition might have to be higher than it is, but the size and limited purposes of the PUF prevent it from being available to significantly buy down tuition.


What benefit will students gain from increases in tuition?

Tuition increases will help ensure that universities can attract and retain superior faculty and staff to provide the best education experience possible for students, and sustain the excellence of education at UT campuses and assure it for future generations. Tuition increases will help pay for additional professors, increased course offerings, improved facilities and debt service on buildings. A "cheaper" education is not always a bargain.


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5. Tuition Plan Alternatives

What is flat-rate tuition?

One of the biggest increases nationwide in the cost of going to college results from students not graduating within four years. Every additional year means more expense to the family and, more importantly, the lost opportunity of getting a paying job in the marketplace. The UT System endorses the view that students can control their costs by taking more credits and graduating sooner. We have put muscle into that philosophy, as have many other universities, by introducing flat-rate tuition. Students pay a flat sum of money, and the more credits they take, the lower their cost per credit.


Does the UT System's approach to tuition rates promote more timely graduation?

Yes, through flat-rate tuition and other cost incentives, as well as increased work study opportunities and increased financial aid, more timely graduation will be promoted.


What is the "B-on-Time" program for college students?

The Texas "B-on-Time" Student Loan Program is a zero-interest educational loan with provisions for forgiveness of the debt if the student graduates on time with at least a B average.

Click here for more information on the "B-on-Time" program.


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6. Access & Affordability: Financial Aid

What are the requirements of the new tuition flexibility law for tuition set-asides for financial assistance?

Any new designated tuition above the previous cap of $46 per semester credit hour requires at least a 20% set-aside. Five percent goes to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the forgivable loan program called the "B-on-Time" program.

The UT System is committed to tuition policies that enable low- and middle-income families to afford a high-quality education for their sons and daughters.


What kinds of financial aid are available?

The federal government provides about 76 percent of the student financial aid available across the country.

  • In Texas, federal assistance accounted for 76.1 percent or $3.627 billion of the aid awarded statewide, state programs accounted for 11.3 percent or $541 million, institutional aid accounted for 6.8 percent or $323 million, and other sources accounted for 5.8 percent or $274 million.
  • In Texas, grants and scholarships accounted for 38 percent or $1.82 billion of the aid awarded statewide; work-study programs accounted for 1 percent or $0.062 billion; and loans accounted for 61 percent or $2.883 billion.

(Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Financial Aid for College Students in Texas Fiscal Year 2006: Annual Report from the Statewide Financial Aid Database for the 2006-07 Academic Year, July 2007.)

  • The government also has a system of tax credits and tax deductions for tuition and fees.
  • In addition, several State financial aid programs are available to help students. The College for Texans website has an excellent list of financial aid resources.
  • Each of the UT campuses offers a range of additional scholarship and grants, many of which are funded through private donations. See each individual campus financial aid and scholarship website for more information.

How much do UT academic students receive in financial aid each year?

Almost 79,000 UT undergraduate students were awarded nearly $912 million from federal, state, and private-sector sources for grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs in 2006-07.


Find out more about financial aid awards


Are there tax benefits for the families of students enrolled in college?

Yes, there are tax deductions and tax credits. The American Opportunity, Hope and Lifetime Learning Education Credit tax credits were the largest federal initiatives since the GI Bill, and in 2000 $4.9 billion was returned to taxpayers to offset college expenses. Over half of that sum went to families with incomes between $30,000 and $75,000. Taxpayers making between $50,000 and $74,999 received an average tax credit, not a deduction, of $902. See the IRS for more information.


How do I find financial assistance for my child's education?

There are many federal, state local, and private sources of financial aid. Some are merit-based (based on a student's academic record or other activities), some are need-based (based on a family's income). Financial aid can include grants and scholarships or loans and work-study. The resources available are different for each university, so it is important to speak with the UT Financial Aid Office at the universities you are considering.


How can I learn about and reduce the financial demands of a college education?

Encourage your children to take more credits per semester and to graduate on time. Each additional semester spent in school beyond a traditional four years results in additional living expense and additional time out of the job market, or extends the time away from graduate and professional schools. In addition, learn about all the types of financial aid that are available and take advantage of these programs. Every college and university offers free financial aid counseling.


What resources are available for financial aid?

Following is a list of some resources that may be available to you:

What is a Stafford Loan?

With the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, you have the option either to pay the interest during in-school periods, or to let it accumulate (accrue) and be added to your loan amount (capitalize) when you begin repayment after you are out of school. Borrow as little as possible overall, and only when necessary to meet your costs, from these more expensive loan programs.


What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?

If you are awarded a subsidized loan, the federal government pays the interest charged during periods of at least half-time enrollment, as well as during the six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time (graduation, withdrawal).

It is generally recommended that individuals borrow as much as possible from these programs before borrowing from unsubsidized loan programs to save on interest charges. For unsubsidized loans, interest is due and payable as soon as the first disbursement of loan funds is made by your lender.


What is the TEXAS Grant program? Who qualifies?

The TEXAS Grant program provides a grant for eligible students to attend public and private nonprofit institutions of higher education in Texas. A qualified student will be a Texas resident with financial need and an expected family contribution of no more than $8,500 who has applied for any available financial aid or assistance and has not been previously granted a baccalaureate degree. Students must enroll at least three-quarter time in an undergraduate degree or certificate program at a Texas non-profit college or university.


What are Pell Grants? Who qualifies?

Federal Pell Grants
generally are awarded to families making less than $40,000. A Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Generally, Pell Grants are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or professional degree. (A professional degree is usually earned after earning a bachelor's degree in a field such as medicine, law, or dentistry.) In some cases, you might receive a Pell Grant for attending a post-baccalaureate teacher certificate program.


What other options are available?

  • Federal Work-Study / State Work-Study funds are limited and are awarded until depleted to undergraduate students who show a calculated financial need and who requested employment awards on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  • University scholarships are most often awarded based on academic merit, although some are given based on financial need. Check with the Financial Aid and Scholarship at your university for more information.

How do I find out more about financial aid?

Almost everyone qualifies for some form(s) of financial aid. Here are some sites that will help you find out about resources.

  • Financial Aid and Scholarship offices of the 15 University of Texas campus websites.
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid provides online forms, information and guidelines for federal student aid. This site is a must-see if you plan to receive financial assistance from the U.S. government. (Llene su Solicitud FAFSA en Español)
  • is a great resource on financial aid, loans, scholarships, savings plans and military aid.
  • Federal Student Aid Programs (U.S. Department of Education) website where you will find help for every stage of the financial aid process, whether you are in school or out of school.
  • Funding Your Education If you have not yet enrolled in college or any kind of postsecondary school, you should read this, an introductory publication that gives an overview of the Student Financial Assistance Programs and of how to apply for aid. (Cómo pagar su educación)
  • The Student Guide (Guía para estudiantes) If you are already enrolled in college, you may want to consult the Student Guide, which provides more information about the aid process while you are in school.
  • State Grant Agencies This site lists state grant agencies and departments of education which offer more information about financial aid specific to each state.
  • State Guaranty Agencies Guaranty agencies administer student loans under the FFEL Program. This site gives a list of the guaranty agencies that operate in each state.
  • Financial Aid Supersite provides reviews of some of the more popular FAFSA-related sites and programs for free and offers for-hire financial aid guidance services.

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