Editor's note: This story was updated Nov. 13 to clarify who will be affected by the tuition increase.
Citing a need to keep up with inflation, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Thursday increased tuition at all of its university campuses for the 2016-17 school year.
Costs will go up at the flagship in College Station and 10 other campuses by 2.2 percent. The increase will apply to students who enroll starting next year, and will not affect current students. So a freshman entering Texas A&M University in the Department of General Studies will pay $4,818 in tuition in the fall 2016 semester, an increase of $104.
In fall 2017, tuition will go up again by either another 2.2 percent or the rate of inflation in higher education that year — whichever amount is lower.
A&M becomes the first of what are expected to be many public universities raising rates in the coming months. The University of Texas System Board of Regents has approved a framework for all of its schools to bump up tuition, too, but won't vote until early next year. The UT schools have also cited inflation as a key reason for the change.
In its proposal to increase tuition, A&M said it will consider using the money to hire new faculty, enhance classroom technology and increase financial aid.
“We know that Texas A&M and its constituent universities don’t live in a vacuum,” said A&M Regent Charles Schwartz, who chairs the board’s finance committee. “We are subject to public forces from the economy just like every other economic actor. Our costs go up.”
Still, Schwartz said, the university system has tried to find other revenue streams and keep costs down. He said that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index has grown more than 8 percent in the past five years while the cost to attend Texas A&M has grown slightly more than 5 percent.
“If it were not for the efficiencies of our administration both at the system and university level, this increase would have been more,” Schwartz said.
Still, not everyone was pleased. A&M student Joseph Hood urged the regents not to “surrender to the national trend of increasing the burden of the cost of education to students.” A&M should instead be a national leader in keeping costs down, he said.
“That is not the Texas A&M I know,” said Hood, who is a member of his university’s student senate.
Conservatives in the Texas Legislature have also been suspicious of tuition increases. Last month, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick warned the UT System to think twice about bumping up its costs. Soon after, he included tuition costs in the list of issues he asked the Senate to review before its 2017 session.
The A&M System did hold off on one proposed cost increase. The school had asked for a new $20 fee to pay for more advisers at the school. Regents said that is still a good idea but put it on hold after strong pushback from students. The school will look for another way to fund an increase in advisers, Schwartz said.
Disclosure: The Texas A&M University System is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.