UTEP Ranks High Nationally for Affordability

At a time when people are focused on the cost and value of a college education and degree, data released June 12 by the U.S. Department of Education shows The University of Texas at El Paso as the best value and most affordable emerging research institution of higher education in the country.

UTEP’s out-of-pocket cost, or “net price,” is $2,066 per academic year for full-time, first-time undergraduate students, making it 12th lowest of all public universities in the country, according to the Education Department’s College Affordability and Transparency report. The national average net price for 4-year universities is $10,471 per year.

UTEP’s net price, which is the total cost of attendance – tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board – minus the average amount of government and university grant and scholarship aid, is the lowest among all emerging Tier One universities in Texas and the lowest among all national research institutions classified by the Carnegie Foundation.

“The U.S. Department of Education report helps underscore the importance of UTEP’s mission to provide access to all students and provide them with the quality education of a national research institution,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “UTEP is recognized as the new model for higher education in the United States, and we will continue to work hard at keeping our tuition and fee costs as low as possible while growing our research faculty so that students across the Paso del Norte region receive the very best education any university can offer.”

The U.S. Department of Education, under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, released highest and lowest tuition and net price for 4,165 public and private institutions. The lists divide institutions into sectors, including nonprofit and for-profit, and less than 2-year, 2- or 4-year institutions.

“We want to arm students and parents with the information they need to make smart educational choices,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a news release. “Students need to know up front how much college will actually cost them instead of waiting to find out when the first student loan bill arrives. These lists are a major step forward in unraveling the mystery of higher education pricing.”

Net price, unlike tuition or total price, calculates what a student will pay out-of-pocket and can be a better measure of how a college education will affect a family financially.

UTEP’s out-of-pocket cost is more than $5,000 a year lower than any of the other Texas emerging Tier One universities. The net prices for the eight institutions are as follows:

The University of Texas at El Paso         $2,066
The University of Texas at Dallas           $7,939
The University of Texas at Arlington       $8,786
Texas State University – San Marcos      $9,752
The University of Texas at San Antonio  $9,801
University of North Texas                      $10,364
Texas Tech University                          $10,775
University of Houston                           $10,806

Craig Westman, UTEP’s associate vice president for student solutions and outcomes integration, attributes the University’s low out-of-pocket cost to a continued focus on making a college education affordable to motivated students from the Paso del Norte region.

“We have taken several important steps to ensure that all students, even those with the lowest family incomes, can attend UTEP,” Westman said. “One example is the UTEP Promise, which is our commitment to cover the costs for students who have family incomes of $30,000 or less. UTEP was the first Texas university to institute a program like this.”

The University instituted the UTEP Promise in 2006. Since then, it has helped an average of 500 students per year to make college affordable by paying their full tuition and mandatory fees.

What makes UTEP unique among the other 4-year public universities on the lowest net cost list is its status as an emerging national research university, said UTEP Provost Junius Gonzales.

“This national recognition is validation that UTEP’s high quality education, as a state designated emerging research university and nationally named ‘high research activity doctoral university’ by the Carnegie Foundation, is truly a value for students – in fact, the best value in class in Texas,” Gonzales said. “It is because of everyone’s – faculty, students and staff – commitment to excellence and ongoing efforts that a UTEP education stays within reach for all.”