Alamo Colleges pricier than counterparts

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 Infographic by Zachary-Taylor Wright

Infographic by Zachary-Taylor Wright

In-district tuition higher than Austin, Dallas and Houston community colleges.

By Wally Perez

gperez239@student.alamo.edu

Students at the Alamo Colleges can take classes at Dallas County Community College District and Houston Community College District for far less than the cost here.

Out-of-district rates for three credit hours, under the recently approved tuition schedule at the Alamo Colleges, have students paying $1,184.

For three credit hours at the other colleges, students pay $333 in Dallas, $424.50 in Houston and $1,089 at Austin Community College.

Unlike the Dallas and Houston districts, Austin does increase in cost as students take more classes when out-of-district. Fifteen credit hours at ACC is $5,445, while 15 hours at the Alamo Colleges is $2,477.

This means students can actually save money taking classes outside of this city and the Alamo Colleges in Dallas and Houston.

In-district tuition costs for three credit hours at the Alamo Colleges is almost three times as expensive as Dallas County Community College District and more than twice the amount of the Houston Community College District.

Current tuition at the Alamo Colleges is $504 for up to six credit hours, $691 for nine credit hours, $873 for 12 credit hours and $1,054 for 15 credit hours.

A new tuition increase was proposed recently in which students would pay more, but receive three to six credit hours in the summer for free if they met the criteria.

The proposed increase was tabled after trustees decided student input was needed before moving forward.

Under the proposed increase, students would pay $258 for three credit hours, $516 for six credit hours, $774 for nine credit hours, $1,032 for 12 credit hours and $1,290 for 15 credit hours, or $86 per credit hour.

Diane Snyder, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said the tuition rate isn’t raised every year, but when necessary.

Snyder said annual budget development includes projecting baseline revenues from only three sources, one being tuition.

“We estimate revenues from enrollment growth or decline and related expenses for instructors for support,” Snyder said.

In comparison to the Alamo Colleges, Houston Community College District students pay $208 for three credit hours, $411 for six credit hours, $613 for nine credit hours, $816 for 12 credit hours and $1,015 for 15 credit hours.

This includes tuition, general fees, technology fees, a student activity and services fee, and recreation fees.

Dallas County Community College District students pay $177 for three credit hours, $354 for six credit hours, $531 for nine credit hours, $708 for 12 credit hours and $885 for 15 credit hours, or $59 per credit hour.

Ann Hatch, district director of media relations in Dallas, confirmed in an email to The Ranger that $59 per credit hour is a flat rate.

Hatch said the Dallas district fiscal year 2016-17 budget does not include a tuition increase, so the $59 per credit hour figure continues through the academic year.

Hatch said there are no additional fees, although certain classes may require a fee specific to that course or field of study.

“We usually don’t add fees, although some areas of study — allied health and nursing, for example — do require extra fees,” Hatch said.

Austin Community College is the closest to the Alamo Colleges’ proposed increase with $255 for three credit hours, $510 for six credit hours, $680 for nine credit hours, $1,020 for 12 credit hours and $1,275 for 15 credit hours for 2016-17.

This comes to $85 per credit hour, including additional fees.

Jessica Vess, associate director of communications at ACC, said the ACC board of trustees approved the tuition schedule for 2016-17 in May and the rate did not change.

Snyder said that last spring, 32 of the 50 community colleges in Texas were higher than the Alamo Colleges’ in-district rates.

“We’re not moving our rate to be the same as somebody else; that’s not what we do,” Snyder said. “We try not to change the rate because we know it’s important for students to have as low a cost as possible.”

Snyder said every community college is different and some have different abilities in how much they can tax.

“We don’t care what everyone else is doing, but we do look at (their rates) to make sure we don’t look out of line with (the colleges),” Snyder said.

The tuition page on the Dallas district website explains the low cost of tuition and what makes the colleges affordable.

It reads: “ … A portion of local property taxes collected annually by Dallas County supports the colleges. Those tax dollars, in addition to funding from the state of Texas and tuition charges, make it possible for the colleges to provide high-quality course offerings at one of the lowest tuition rates in the state.

“Because state and private universities don’t have a local tax base for additional support, they must charge higher tuition rates.”

Snyder said Dallas has an advantage: Even with a lower tax rate, they produce more tax revenue in their metropolitan area.

Sometimes the tax rate is making up for things which allows the Dallas district to keep that tuition lower, Snyder said.

“We’ve survived not having to raise our tuition as often because our tax rate — without changing it — has produced more money because of property values going up in Bexar County,” Snyder said.

Snyder said what’s going back to the board in October is not a tuition increase, but a changing in the methodology of the current tuition schedule.

“Today if you look at the first page of our tuition schedule, everyone has a different dollar amount on there on a per credit per hour basis,” Snyder said.

On the fall 2016 tuition and fees page, one credit hour currently costs $504.

“With the proposal, we’re going to a flat rate of $86 per credit hour,” Snyder said.

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