The Texas A&M University System regents on Thursday adopted a new tuition and fee structure for their flagship institution, Texas A&M University, which is based in College Station but includes a campus in Galveston and the system's health science center.
Phil Adams, the chairman of the board, said in a statement that he hoped the new approach would "bring transparency to otherwise multiple, confusing student fees."
The new plan will result in students paying a single rate for their education through the first four or five years of their undergraduate education, depending on their major. It will take effect for the incoming freshmen in the fall of 2014.
The fixed-rate plan replaces the previous model of tuition, which would generally increase each year in combination with various student fees. The board voted to consolidate more than 7,000 separate fees on Thursday.
The plan means an increase in tuition in the beginning of a students' education, though. In advance of Thursday's meeting, some students had expressed concerns about rising tuition.
The University of Texas at Dallas has a similar guaranteed tuition plan. Other schools have historically provided the option of locking in a certain rate, but in some cases — like at the University of Texas at El Paso — that option has not proved popular among students.
In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 29, which requires public universities to provide students with the option of a fixed-rate tuition plan, and boards across the state have been developing optional plans.
"All of us associated with the academic and financial aspects of the university have worked hard to keep tuition costs as low as possible in keeping with our ongoing commitment to offer a high-quality educational experience for our students," Mark Hussey, A&M's interim president, said in a statement.
Also at Thursday's meeting in Galveston, the A&M System board approved a two-year lease on 2.5 acres in Houston's Texas Medical Center, where it intends to expand the system's health science center.
Brett Giroir, the interim executive vice president and CEO of A&M's health science center, emailed faculty, staff and students following the vote, saying: "This is the first of many future steps to solidify our continued collaboration and programmatic leadership within the Texas Medical Center – the most important health-focused district on the planet. I look forward to working with a multi-disciplinary group to develop our program and aspirations for a comprehensive Houston campus.”