Board of Trustees debate tuition change

By Khrystyna Snyder
Pulse Staff Reporter

KSnyder Graphic

At the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees meeting on March 22, 2016, a majority of trustees did not agree with a proposal on tuition changes as they considered them a tuition increase.

The possibility of changing tuition and fees for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 was tabled until July or October; no firm date has been set. No changes have been made to tuition and fees for in-district or out-of-district students at this time.

According to Diane Snyder, CPA and vice chancellor for Finance and Administration, “The item that was pulled related to tuition was not a tuition increase. It was a recommendation to unbundle the banded tuition rates for up to 6 hours and go to one single tuition rate for all students.  The single tuition rate was set to ensure the same tuition revenues as the prior banded tuition rate schedule.”

Banded tuition is charging a single rate for a specific range of credits. At Alamo Colleges, the range of banded credits are between one and six hours. For example, a student taking one credit hour will pay $504 for tuition and fees, but a student taking six hours will also pay $504.

Currently, in-District students who are enrolled in 12 hours pay roughly $72.75 per credit hour, and those who are enrolled in 15 hours pay roughly $70.27 per credit hour. Students enrolled in 6 hours pay $84 per credit.

Snyder said that the proposal on tuition was tabled for more time to reflect on ways that the Alamo Colleges can incentivize students to attend school full time. As of Fall 2015, 18.3 percent of Alamo College students attended full-time.

The proposal recommends a standard rate of $83 per credit hour, regardless of how many hours a student takes. This rate will be beneficial for the majority of students who attend part-time, but the proposed rate will increase tuition for those students who take 12 or more credit hours per semester.

Clint Kingsbery, trustee of District 8, said, “The federal government requires a set fee of schedule on a per hour basis when it comes to how rewards are disbursed.”

When the committee convenes in April, they hope to have an incentive program that will persuade students to attend school full-time. Students who attend full-time will benefit by taking advantage of full Pell Grant funds and faster graduation.

Federal Pell Grants are money that the government provides for eligible students up to $5,775 per school year. Being a grant, this is money awarded to a student that he or she does not have to pay back; it is not a loan. Once you start using the Pell Grant, a student has 6 years or 12 long (fall and spring) semesters to attain your bachelor’s degree. To apply for the Pell Grant, you must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the school year.

Gilberto Becerra Jr., vice president of Student Success, said, “Alamo Colleges never wants to raise tuition for students, but nominal increases are good.”

He agreed with pushing student to attend full time as data shows they are more likely to finish their degree.

The trustees wanted more details on the proposed incentive program. They also wanted a schedule to cater specifically to military-covered students.

Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College, said, “The initial goal of the proposal brought forward to the March Board Committee of the Whole meeting was to break out tuition rates for students taking three and six credit hours. This addresses a recommendation brought forward by the U.S. Department of Defense for active duty military personnel.”

Vincent Bozquez, coordinator of Veteran Affairs, said, “The issue regarding the proposed tuition changes really stems from military tuition assistance and not VA educational benefits or the Hazlewood Exemption. Tuition assistance is for active duty military personnel. VA educational benefits and the Texas Hazlewood Exemption are generally for veterans, family members and some active duty personnel.”

Juan Medellin, a freshman at Palo Alto College, said, “I don’t believe there should be any rise in tuition rates. Raising tuition rates will be discouraging to students that are trying to save money.”

Marcello Casillas, trustee of District 4 said, “I am opposed to any tuition increase. The administration has said they will make recommendations. I will consider what is presented, but I will oppose a tuition increase.”

To find your representative on the Board of Trustees, visit the board’s website. Once you know which district you live in, visit your trustee’s profile page. Each trustee’s email address is located on their profile page.