Section 6: Impact on Students - Affordability

6A. Discuss the impact of proposed increases of total academic cost on student affordability.

Provide any data that demonstrate the estimated impact on students, especially in low- and middle-income groups, based on the estimated net price, financial aid recipient mix, student demographics, student debt, etc.

Over the course of several tuition and fee committee meetings, plus meetings directly with the Student Government Association Executive Council, UTSA’s Tuition and Fee Proposal has undergone several revisions to closely align the final proposal to student needs. For example, UTSA students initiated an effort to incorporate a sustainability program at a very modest tuition increase of $.33 cents per credit hour (aimed at $5 a semester increase in total academic costs) to support the programs started under the prior Green Fee. They also were supportive of the fact that differential tuition will greatly improve safety and equipment training for students using the College of Engineering labs. The student members of the committee were able to reflect on the outcomes that tuition and fee increases will have, understanding how the increases will add value to their educational experiences and continue to benefit them even after they graduate.

The committee was also in favor of earmarking 15% of the differential tuition increases for financial aid, which will provide direct assistance for student in those colleges.

UTSA serves many low-income students, with more than 11,000 undergraduate students receiving Federal PELL grants each year. The university’s current awarding philosophy continues to take into consideration a percentage of the demonstrated need to award limited grants and scholarships based on financial need, application date, and fund availability. The neediest students, who have a family contribution of zero, will have 90 percent or more of their tuition and fees covered through grants and scholarships provided they apply by the application deadline and meet eligibility criteria for institutional and state grant programs. Less needy students will have their need met on a proportional basis. The tuition increase will generate additional funds earmarked for assistance to help fill any gaps for low-income and middle-income students.

Below is a snapshot of how our students are using financial aid in FY17.

  • More than $21 million in need-based institutional grants and scholarships were awarded to students during the 2016-17 year. An additional $3.7 in merit-based scholarships were
  • Average grant/scholarship package for first-time, full-time freshmen = $8,927
  • Average grant/scholarship package for all students (including freshmen) = $7,576
  • More than $22 million in need-based state grants (Texas Grant) was awarded to 4,400+ students during 2016- 17, with an average grant of $5,000.
  • 70% of the students who demonstrated need via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) received need-based grants and scholarships

UTSA responds to student financial needs effectively, given the demographics of our population. The net price from the latest 2015-16 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDs) for FAFSA filers based on student income levels is as follows:

Income Net Price
$0-$30,000 $9,617
$30,001 - $48,000 $10,707
$48,001 - $75,000 $13.320
$75,001 - $110,000 $16,880
$110,001 and more $18,597

Students make up the net price by borrowing low-interest federal student loans. For first-time freshmen, the average subsidized Stafford loan was $3,474 and the average for all undergraduates was $4,312 during the 2016-17 year.

Approximately 63 percent of the undergraduate student population at UTSA borrowed some form of student loans, with an average federal loan debt of $24,980 upon graduation, which is below the national average. The percentage of students who start at UTSA and incur federal debt as well as all other debt has actually declined since the 2014-15 academic year. Continued efforts will be made to decrease student loan debt for our student population as we look at increasing set asides and expanding scholarship programs.

6B. Briefly describe any new or ongoing tuition and fee policy innovations such as flat rate tuition, rebates, and discounts also impact affordability.

UTSA will continue to offer a Guaranteed Tuition Plan to undergraduates. Review of this program has led to the recommendation to hold the price of the program flat (unless you are College of Business or College of Engineering student) and to encourage more students to enroll in this option which offers a predictable and stable tuition pricing.

6C. Briefly discuss planned usage of additional financial aid set-aside amount that would result if requested increases are granted.

With an increase in tuition, the additional funds set aside for need-based financial aid will be in the form of grants or work-study for undergraduate and graduate students. UTSA recognizes that many of our students work while attending school. The university sets aside $1,425,000 every year for work-study jobs, which is more than the federal and state allocations combined. If tuition and fees increase, the percentage of grants and/or scholarships offered will also need to increase to offset the additional cost to students. The net price should not increase more than the amount of the increase in total academic cost.

Students are awarded a percentage of their tuition and fee costs based on:

  • Application date
  • Financial Need
  • Admitted status (new incoming students)
Completion of 30 hours and maintaining academic progress (continuing students since Fall 2014)