This article has been corrected to show that enrollment was down in fall 2020.
Higher minimum pay, reduced costs and another year without tuition increases are some of the things to look forward to at the University of North Texas in the coming fall semester.
President Neal Smatresk confirmed those, as well as several other, changes during his State of the University address Wednesday.
He confirmed early in the speech that enrollment was down in fall 2020 despite overall retention increasing by 3%. He attributed that to would-be freshmen taking a gap year and both new and transfer students not being in a financial situation to commit to a four-year university.
That announcement was preceded and followed by UNT’s accomplishments and goals.
Perhaps most impressive, he confirmed a pay raise the UNT’s lowest-paid workers.
"Effective March 1, all staff who’ve worked at UNT for 90 or more days will earn at least $12 an hour," Smatresk said.
That promise followed an acknowledgment that "some of our front-line employees are not earning a living wage."
It also came amid another national surge in support for an increase to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which is also the functional minimum wage in Texas.
A Texas law passed in 2019 requires employers to begin paying workers with disabilities at least the federal minimum wage by 2022. Until then, employers are allowed to pay those Texans less than $7.25 an hour.
President Joe Biden recently proposed an increase to the federal minimum to $15 an hour, which has been a policy goal for some activists for roughly a decade.
Perhaps most important for students, Smatresk said UNT would not increase the cost of tuition in the coming school year, which will mark the third consecutive year without a tuition increase.
Additionally, Smatresk said UNT will not require SAT or ACT test scores for acceptance going forward. Officials will instead use a formula using class rank and grade-point average.
He packaged these and other goals as affordability issues meant to combat the upward trends of student food insecurity, housing insecurity and student debt.