Board approves new Oklahoma tuition rate, re-states financial position

Board approves new Oklahoma tuition rate, re-states financial position

October 17
11:08 2014

Joshua Knopp / News Editor

The UNT Board of Regents decided Thursday to make a move on potential students in Oklahoma, approving the request to establish a special tuition rate for students from the panhandle state. They also re-stated the school’s financial standing from the 2013 fiscal year, which was off by more than $20 million.

Vice president for student affairs Elizabeth With said statutory tuition rates, or the part of tuition that isn’t fees set aside to fund the physical functions of the school, are $50 per credit hour for in-state students, but $412 for out of state students. The difference in tuition is mandated by Texas to replace the educational tax support the state already drew from in-state students.

But because UNT is so close to Oklahoma, law allows for the school to set a special tuition rate for students from that state. Executive director of admissions Rebecca Lothringer said Oklahoma schools have had special tuition rates for Texas residents for several years.

With advised setting Oklahoma residents’ statutory tuition at $100. She said out-of-state rates were a major prohibition for prospective Oklahoma students, whom UNT has been targeting for the past few years. With said the school only has 99 students with Oklahoma residencies. Of those, only 61 are undergraduates, and four of those undergraduates are able to pay in-state tuition because they are on a scholarship.

University president Neal Smatresk said UNT is at a competitive disadvantage for out-of-state and out-of-country students and said the school is doing everything it can to negate that disadvantage.

“We are flipping over every stone we can from an enrollment perspective, because at the end of the day, we don’t survive unless we have students and revenue flow,” he said. “Wherever we can maximize enrollment, grow new markets and new enrollment, it is purely a net gain for us.”

The conversation soon turned to the board’s befuddlement over why out-of-state and out-of-country students’ tuition rates really need to be higher. Board chairman Brint Ryan criticized the state’s policy, saying UNT graduates are particularly likely to take jobs in Texas, which should negate any tax support they didn’t provide the state while growing up.

“The person who came up with that construct would not have passed UNT’s first year economics course,” Ryan said. “I think this is about as much of a no-brainer as comes across our desk here. I’m shocked. I’m frankly amazed that we keep running across this kind of stuff. Part of it is our own making. Part of it is we’re not active in trying to fix some of the things that make the whole university system in the state of Texas uncompetitive.”

The board passed the proposal, but it will have to go through the Texas Education Coordinating Board to go into effect.

After lunch, the board heard the Financial Oversight Task Force’s report on more accurate numbers for the 2013 fiscal year. In response to the school’s financial crisis, the task force has been looking in-depth at the past two fiscal years to make sure the numbers are accurate. It found that the system has $12.8 million less than it reported at the end of FY 2013 and main campus had $22.9 million less.

Vice chancellor for finance Janet Waldron stressed that this isn’t UNT announcing it has lost more money.

“This reflects the corrected accounting treatments for assets, so it’s not really a loss or a gain,” Waldron said. “It’s now an accurate reflection of what the ending balance is.”

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