Board member questions the accommodation of SACSCOC standards.
By Zachary-Taylor Wright
The board of trustees reviewed the changes in tuition plans across the Alamo Colleges during the Audit, Budget and Finance Committee meeting March 7.
The board of trustees will discuss and may take action on the tuition changes at tomorrow’s board meeting.
The tuition plan changes included a tuition increase for the registered nursing program at this college and St. Philip’s College, a decrease in out-of-district tuition, the inclusion of a new $1 international education fee and mention of the set of transcripts students will receive.
Diane Snyder, associate vice chancellor of finance and administration, said the registered nursing program has not seen a tuition increase in nine years, warranting the recommended increase from $900 per term to $1,200 per term.
Also, Snyder said the pre-nursing program, which is currently at $700 per term, might need a cost analysis review, as the tuition has not been increased in seven years.
According to the tuition schedule recommendations for fiscal year 2018 presented to the board, the out-of-district tuition is decreasing from $233 per semester credit hour to $202 per semester credit hour.
Snyder said the mention of students receiving a set of transcripts was added to the tuition schedule to ensure students the first set of transcripts would be free.
According to The Ranger Feb. 20, the district center for student information began issuing a set of transcripts Feb. 3 for each Alamo College a student attended; the first set of official transcripts is free and $10 each after that.
The board approved the international education fee, which was established to fund scholarships for students to study abroad, Dec. 13.
At the meeting, Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the proposed student fee had been voted down by the student government associations at the colleges, but this policy did not require a student vote and could be implemented solely with board approval.
Snyder said a decision should be made this month as registration for the fall semester begins in April.
District 5 trustee Roberto Zarate said the district needs to start documenting the costs of changes, like producing sets of transcripts, to inform the public of the financial impacts of accommodating the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges’ recommendations.
Many of the required changes were to undo previous board and district actions.
SACSCOC found this college and Northwest Vista and St. Philip’s colleges in violation of six Comprehensive Standards, including the branding of the district as “Alamo Colleges,” the transfer of intra-district and out-of-district credits, the lack of a true institutional grade-point average and district policies.
District 6 trustee Gene Sprague argued that a cumulative grade-point average across the district should be maintained to prevent a negative impact on students, saying federal law should take precedence over a group of “self-claimed accreditors.”
Sprague said this in reference to the presentation given to the board during the Student Success Committee Meeting March 7, in which Dr. Harold Whitis, district director of student financial services, said the Department of Education found the financial aid practices of the district in accordance with federal law.
Snyder said financial aid is unique to accreditation.
Snyder said Pell Grant money depends on the number of credit hours a student is taking, and grade-point averages need to be parallel to the courses being taken to determine eligibility.
Snyder said this is why the recommendations made by SACSCOC are affecting the process for obtaining federal financial aid.
Sprague questioned the response transfer universities will have when receiving a set of transcripts, saying he doesn’t feel it is necessary. University applications require a transcript from every college attended.
Sprague questioned the set of transcripts, saying he doesn’t recall having a board vote to approve the implementation of a set of transcripts.
Thomas Cleary, vice chancellor of planning, performance and information services, didn’t confirm the board’s vote but stated his team of employees vetted the issue in January and determined it was an appropriate solution.