By Sergio Medina
Robert McKinley, vice chancellor of economic and workforce development, said in an interview Nov. 21 that Alamo Colleges administration is aware of international students’ concerns over the high cost of international tuition and will begin research in spring to possibly bring the cost down.
Patrice Ballard, coordinator of international student services, said Nov. 14 district administration has made no changes to lower the cost of international tuition since her office and Dr. Tom Cox, chair of languages and sponsor of the International Student Association, presented the issue to administration in October 2018.
International tuition sits at $466 per credit hour, while in-district tuition is $99 per credit hour. This means international students registered for 12 credit hours, or full time, pay a minimum of $5,592 per semester, compared to the $1,188 paid by in-district students.
These rates will remain for the spring semester.
Revenue for in-district rates comes from state appropriations, ad valorem taxes and the tuition paid by in-district students.
McKinley said, “We’re aware it’s high. There was a lot of budget movement coming on; you know, we had the Promise program, and we had all the different buildings that are going on at SAC and everything else, and I guess we needed more information, too. So there wasn’t a policy adjustment (for international tuition) at that time.”
McKinley referred to Alamo Promise, a program district launched in early October that will cover tuition not paid by FAFSA for graduating seniors from 25 high schools in Bexar County starting in 2020.
However, this program is not funded directly from district budget, but private and public donors that include the city, the county and companies such as Toyota and Wells Fargo.
McKinley said the district will begin a budgetary analysis in January that will last about half a year, during which time administration will analyze the cost of international tuition.
“We intend to put on the table analysis of this issue and a recommendation for this issue,” he said. “So we’re at the point of trying to gather more information.”
Part of gathering more information includes comparing this district with other community colleges in Texas.
That includes looking at colleges such as Houston Community College, Lone Star College and Dallas County Community College, McKinley said.
“We’re going to go do that, a comparative analysis and then see where the market is for that and then come back with a recommendation of what a new rate might look like,” he said.
He said he “agreed entirely” with the idea of lower tuition attracting a larger international population, which could benefit this district because of higher demand.
Ballard and Cox are confident future action to make tuition affordable for international students is possible with cooperation from McKinley.
“He is very on board with getting this (tuition) down to make San Antonio College and ACCD more competitive because they realize it is way too high,” Ballard said.
Cox said, “Fall of next year is the earliest anything will happen, but I feel really confident that we’re going to be able to get something good.”