Students will see a flat rate of $86 per credit hour in spring 2017.
By Wally Perez
The proposed tuition schedule for in-district students was moved forward for approval during the Audit, Budget and Finance Committee meeting Tuesday in Killen.
The proposal was tabled during a committee meeting Sept. 13 and trustees recommended the proposal be taken to students for feedback to see how they felt about a flat rate price per credit hour.
Under the proposed increase, students would pay $86 per credit hour. The cost would be $258 for three credit hours, $516 for six hours, $774 for nine hours, $1,032 for 12 credit and $1,290 for 15 hours.
Currently, students pay $504 for up to six credit hours, $691 for nine hours, $873 for 12 hours and $1,054 for 15 hours.
Under the new fast completion incentive plan, students who follow a two-year plan obtain up to six free credit hours in the summer if they earn a combined 24 credit hours in the fall and spring.
Students can earn three free credit hours in the summer under a three-year incentive plan, which requires 18 combined credit hours in the fall and spring.
Presidents from the five Alamo Colleges were tasked with collecting input from students at their colleges; some used focus groups, Student Government Associations and student surveys.
The surveys consisted of two questions.
“Would you take 12 or more college level credit hours in one semester (fall or spring) to receive 3 hours of tuition waived the following summer?” and “Would you take 24 or more college level credit hours (you would take 12 or more credit hours in the fall, and 12 or more credit hours in the spring) to receive 6 hours of tuition waived the following summer?”
According to the student surveys collected, the majority of students were in favor of the tuition change.
Richard Wells, president of Northeast Lakeview’s SGA, presented feedback on the surveys and provided recommendations given by some of the students and the SGA at NLC.
“We came to the consensus that the students who took the survey were for the overall policy,” Wells said.
Wells said mostly full-time students participated in the survey and would like more time to get input from part-time students for a more accurate representation.
In addition, Wells asked the board if they could change the current payment plans from three installment payments back to four installments to take the burden of the cost off students because of the increase in tuition for those who are taking more courses.
Snyder said the design of the payment plans wouldn’t change because they need all payments under a plan to complete before the next term’s registration opens, which is why it was changed to three installments.
“This is why we try to take final payments as late as we can,” Snyder said. “We tried to structure it very clean so all payments would complete before the new term opens.”
Student trustee Emmanuel Nyong urged the board to hold off on approving the increase until fall 2017 so SGAs at the five colleges could accumulate more feedback and give students more time to think it over.
Nyong said three to four weeks was not enough to get a survey, which represents both part-time and full-time students.
Nyong said feedback was received through surveys via Orgsync and student meetings.
District 5 trustee Roberto Zárate said it may be difficult to postpone the proposal because the board doesn’t meet in November.
Zárate said he would like to move this forward for approval before January so students can earn credits for the summer.
District 3 trustee Anna Bustamante said more time should be taken since part-time students were the target audience for the survey.
“This is supposed to encourage them to finish their degrees or certificates,” Bustamante said.
“We should give them an opportunity to give their input.”
Diane Snyder, associate vice chancellor for finance and administration, said there wasn’t a lot of time for the survey to begin with.
Chancellor Bruce Leslie said if they wait on the proposal, students will lose the opportunity for summer classes this summer.
District 8 trustee Clint Kingsbery asked for a survey that would be distributed to just part-time students at the Alamo Colleges.
Snyder said it would be difficult to do and would rely heavily on the presidents of the five colleges to track down part-time students specifically.
Wells said another reason to push the vote is because of students who graduate or transfer in the spring.
“The majority of our students transfer or graduate in spring,” Wells of Northwest Vista’s SGA said, “The students will be paying for a service that they may not need or utilize.”
Snyder said unfortunately there isn’t much to do for students who are moving on.
“The point we’re trying to get to is for students now; what can we do to maximize their opportunity to maximize this plan and help us achieve greater graduation numbers?” Leslie said.
“I don’t know that we can do something to someone who is graduating — which is great, that’s what we want — but we shouldn’t delay this incentive because of it.”