New program offers free summer hours

By Jonathan R. Velez
Pulse staff reporterjvelez

The Alamo Colleges are now one of the first to start what is called the “fast-completion incentive plan.”

This plan allows students who have completed 18 hours or more during the fall and spring semesters to take three more hours for free in the summer. Students may also qualify to receive six free college hours if they complete 24 hours during the same time period.

The Alamo Colleges are the only schools in Texas who have this incentive program, said Gilbert Becerra Jr., vice president of Student Success at Palo Alto College.

“We hope very strongly that students will see the value in free summer classes to help speed up the graduation process,” said Becerra.

Becerra and the Palo Alto staff believe they can speed up the graduation process to get more students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years, which is when financial aid runs out.

According to the Community College Research Center (CCRC), studies show that a quarter of students who enroll in the fall do not return in the spring. That is why the Palo Alto staff is hopeful that this incentive plan will decrease that percentage and encourage students to continue their education and finish strong.

Once students are billed for the free hours, a statement will go out saying the payment for the chosen classes has been deducted. Students will only need to pay for the miscellaneous fees, which equal about $200. This incentive is beneficial for full-time students who are looking to finish at a faster rate.

With this plan, students are able to save money and use their financial aid to the fullest, leaving room to pay for other needs they may have.

Not many students know about this new plan. When asked, some students did not know of the savings Palo Alto had to offer, and if they did, it was very vague and general.

“All I know is that if you take so many hours in the fall and spring you can get free hours in the summer,” said Megan Herrera, an Interdisciplinary Studies major at Palo Alto College.

Herrera was very thankful when she was shown the school’s website, which had all the details.

This new program will enable students to finish faster and move on to the next step in their academic careers.

With the help of this incentive plan, students will have a better start and an even stronger finish in the semesters to come.