Tuition increase to combat budget deficit



UTD administrators are looking to generate additional revenue with the tuition hike, approved last semester, to revitalize growth thwarted by last summer’s state-mandated budget cuts.

With a $2 million budget deficit this year and a pledge to provide a 2 percent cost of living increase to all employees, UTD will be forced to draw on reserve funds, said B. Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president and provost.

The reduction in legislative funding leaves the UTD budget $5 million short this year, but the spring tuition increases of $300 – the average per student increase based on a 15-hour undergraduate course load – are expected to add $3 million to cover university operating costs.

Next fall, an additional $330 tuition increase will contribute $10 million, Wildenthal said. But even without hiring new faculty or growth, the budget will increase an additional $11 million next year, he said.

UT Austin, by comparison, will carry an $84 million deficit in its $846 million budget for the 2005 fiscal year (FY), according to the UT System tuition proposal website.

Even in light of these statistics, UTD will expand its scholarship program.

UTD will increase its Academic Excellence scholarships program by 40 recipients in addition to the 500 plus it will award next year, said Michael Coleman, associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies.

“The university has made careful choices on what to maintain and what to give up,” Coleman said. “To have (this) kind of freshman profile, we need to provide around 40 percent merit-based scholarships.”

There is no set number for scholarships awarded to continuing students, but the standard is set high at GPAs of 3.85-3.9, Coleman said.

“We have a very aggressive scholarship program,” Coleman said. “It allows us to have the students of caliber that we (do).”

The number of qualified students will not be the only growth at UTD.

Although the current budget doesn’t permit it, faculty recruitment should resume next year as well, Wildenthal said.

“We had deferred from making any hiring freezes or layoffs until the tuition was approved,” Wildenthal said. “That budget (FY 2005) doesn’t allow us to hire anybody new,” adding that it would not be in the spirit of growth for the university.

Although UTD received $28 million in grants this year – up from $14 million two years ago – that kind of growth will not be possible without more faculty, Wildenthal said.



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