When deciding which college to attend, most students may not understand what all goes into a university’s tuition. At Texas Tech, knowing what one is paying for can be important for most students.
Regardless if one is an out-of-state or in-state student, there are a variety of components that go into one’s tuition for the school year.
Tech Chief Financial Officer Noel Sloan said the estimated tuition is set every two years.
“We go to our Board of Regents in December of odd-number years with a two-year plan just to have a larger planning cycle,” she said. “That is a really involved process.”
Since the university has a differential tuition model, Sloan said the deans of the Tech colleges look at the base needs in accordance to the Higher Education Price Index. She said the deans also provide insight on what aspects of their college cost more and if certain programs need increases in differential tuition.
“On the student fees side, Student Government Association names representatives to serve on student fee committees,” Sloan said. “So, there’s a separate committee for each one of the student fees, whether that’s student union, student services, the recreation center.”
For information on what fees are required in addition to tuition, one can visit the Tech Institutional Research website.
During the fall term, Sloan said the student representatives make recommendations on whether certain fees need to be increased in order to acquire more services for students.
In addition to how tuition and fees are determined for a school year, Tech students may also wonder how tuition is used.
About two-thirds of Tech tuition goes to student services and instructor salaries while one-third of tuition goes to academic and institutional support, which consists of Tech staff members, administration and campus utilities, Sloan said. To help students get the most out of their tuition, Tech is working to make sure students are advised properly, so they do not have to stay in college longer than needed.
“The focus, for a couple of years now, has been on the 30 equals four,” she said. “If you take 30 semester credit hours a year to graduate in four years, it also helps on the student debt side.”
To learn more about what one’s estimated tuition could be for a semester, Sloan said one can go on the Student Business Services’ website and use the tuition estimator. She said one can look at how different factors, such as being an out-of-state-student and credit hours, can impact an estimated tuition amount.
When a student graduates on time, Sloan said they can get a job sooner. She said the university has seen a lot of progress with the 30 equals four initiative and progress in graduation and retention rates.
Working to get the most credit hours out of every semester is a goal for some college students, as they may want to avoid a lot of debt after graduation.
Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said tuition is a big factor for prospective college regardless of the school. Controlling costs and providing sufficient revenues to pay and hire faculty and provide services for students are goals he said the university is managing while trying to combat the student debt issue.
“This year, not only for Texas Tech but at the System level, there will be a great deal of focus on student debt,” he said. “There are many elements that contribute to this concept of debt.”
In addition to this focus, Schovanec said how students are advised regarding class schedules is important. He said campus advising should be in the students’ best interests in order to help them graduate in the appropriate amount of time.
“I think advising should be done on such an individual basis,” he said regarding how advisers are important in helping students decide whether they want to pursue and pay for graduate education.
Along with the ins and outs of Tech tuition and fees, other expenses play a role in where a student may attend college.
Laura Scott, associate director of Tech Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, said some students do not understand Tech’s cost of attendance in relation to tuition and fees.
“So, when they see that the cost of attendance for Texas Tech for one academic year is $26,712, they think that’s how much it costs to go to class, when actually, I think a better description is the cost to live and attend Tech for one academic year,” she said regarding the 2019-20 academic year.
The cost to live and attend Tech is a better description than cost of attendance, which Scott said consists of tuition and fees, housing, meals, books and supplies, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. She said the miscellaneous portion can consist of toiletries, clothing, entertainment expenses and more.
“Those we call indirect costs because they’re not on the Texas Tech bill,” she said regarding the miscellaneous portion of the cost of attendance. “But they are costs that we know students have, and we need to make sure that as students are planning financially to pay for college, we want them to consider those costs, but they are not the costs that are on the bill.”
Along with the different costs of college, meeting eligibility requirements is another obstacle some students face.
When a student does not plan out their four years well enough, Scott said that can lead to having to attend college for more semesters.
Students need to know what is expected of them in regards to Satisfactory Academic Progress, which requires maintaining a grade point average of at least 2.00 for undergraduates and law students and 3.00 or whatever GPA is required by the degree program for graduate and professional students, according to the Tech Financial Aid website. Students also must complete at least 67 percent of attempted credit hours and attempt no more than 150 percent of credit hours that is required by one’s degree program.
“A fifth year means a fifth year worth of living expenses,” Scott said.
Christy Miller, director of reporting and systems at Tech Financial Aid and Scholarships, said in order to get the most out of each school year and not have to pay for tuition and other costs of attendance expenses for multiple years, students should plan their time in college well.
“We see a lot of students who maybe enroll in enough hours to start with, whether it’s 12 or 15, but then end up dropping a few for whatever reason,” she said. “Or they just weren’t good in planning.”
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as a U.S. citizen or completing the Texas Application for State Financial Aid as a non-U.S. citizen residing in Texas are steps to prepare for financial opportunities for next year, Miller said. These applications open on Oct. 1.
In addition, Miller said a student should complete the Scholarship Application, which also becomes available on Oct. 1 and can be found on the Tech Financial Aid website, and expected enrollment through Raiderlink.
“The sooner they can start getting that on board and completed, the sooner they will be ready to go for next year,” she said. “Everything’s first come, first serve, so they’re putting themselves in a really great position if they’re on top of those things early.”