Senators urge greater tuition transparency from administrators

Senior News Reporter

Concerns over transparency in how tuition revenue is being appropriated have caused faculty senators to bring the issue to administrators, some of who say the information is easily accessible.

Roselyn Morris, McCoy College of Business senator, discussed concerns with transparency in students’ tuition at the Jan. 22 faculty senate meeting. Morris was unsure if the university is being “transparent” and honest enough with students about where their tuition money is going.

“I think we ought to start discussing it at some point and possibly being transparent to our students and their parents,” Morris said.

However, Bill Nance, vice president for Finance and Support Services said the information about where tuition money is going is easily accessible on the Tuition and Fee Information page on the Texas State website.

Student tuition is broken into two parts—designated and statutory. Designated tuition is delegated by the legislature for the Board of Regents to set. The legislature sets statutory tuition, which is only spent on “educational and general activities” defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Statutory tuition is $50 per credit hour.

Faculty salaries and operating expenses of departmental offices, deans’ offices, Alkek Library, some administrative functions, student services, the registrar, admissions and financial aid are all defined as educational and general activities, Nance said.

Nance said just like when writing a check, people do not know exactly where all of their money goes when they pay tuition.

“We just spend it on all these (educational and general) functions,” Nance said.

Core education and general budgetary needs receive $220 million from tuition revenue, said Gordon Thyberg, assistant vice president of Budgeting, Financial Planning and Analysis.

“In 2003, (legislators) deregulated designated tuition, because of their cutting appropriations, they couldn’t afford to pay for more financial aid,” Thyberg said.

Institutions across the state had to begin transferring more designated tuition to education and general purposes to make up for reductions in state appropriations, Nance said.

Student debt is rising, and universities are “asking students to help pay for the person next to them” by using tuition to give to low-income students Morris said.

Financial aid receives 15 percent of the statutory tuition and 20 percent of the designated tuition, Nance said.
“That is a statewide mandate,” Nance said. “The legislature decreed that.”

Tuition rates have been on the decline the past few years because for the first time since 2003, the legislature appropriated more money for student-adjusted inflation, Nance said.

The state appropriation for the educational and general activities budget is $80 million, and $58 million is transferred from the institution, Nance said.

“The educational and general budget could be higher,” Nance said.

About 31 percent of the core budget goes to educational and general activities, Thyberg said. Academic departments and operating costs of those departments are included in the educational and general activity budget, Nance said.

Information about where students’ tuition and fees go can be found at the Budget Office or online, Nance said.