AP NEWS

Lone Star College System board three makes tuition, fee changes

March 21, 2019

The Lone Star College System recently made three changes to their tuition and fees — all approved by the Board of Trustees. Two of the changes increased tuition while one change decreased tuition.

All changes to tuition and fees will take place at the start of this year’s fall semester.

2019-20 credit tuition and fees change

The change that will affect the majority of the system’s students is the approval of an increase in the 2019-20 credit tuition and fees schedule: credit tuition went up $5 from $44 to $49 per credit hour and out-of-district tuition went from $95 to $105 per credit hour.

Other minor fees, such as distance learning and registration fees, increased by $1.

Jennifer Mott, the system’s chief financial officer, explained that the move follows the board policy that was approved last year. It provides guidelines for an automatic tuition and fees increase at no more than 8 percent of the previous years’ rate for the next few years.

“The board policy is meant to convey a 50/50 split between students and local taxpayers in supporting the cost of education,” Mott said.

The college currently receives 41 percent of their funding from local property taxes and 27 percent from student tuition and fees. The remaining 32 percent comes from state appropriations, out-of-college fees and grants, but the system is hoping to equalize the taxpayer and student levels within five years.

Workforce non-credit course fee change

A second change approved by the board was a $3 per contact hour tuition increase in workforce, non-credit open enrollment courses.

Contact hours are measured by the hours of scheduled instruction time per course. That change brings the total fee per contact hour from $13 to $16.

The workforce, non-credit open enrollment courses are for students who need professional certifications for various trades and skills, but not an official credit-bearing degree, according to Dwight Smith, the system’s vice chancellor of academic success.

“This is a way for individuals to enter the workforce, but they don’t have to do it through credit program,” Smith said.

Smith said this fee has not been increased in four years, so the increase helps with the extra costs in both instruction and administration.

Tuition and fee exemption for firefighters

Firefighters, both volunteer and professional, are to benefit from the third tuition and fees change.

The system eliminated the tuition and laboratory fees for firefighters enrolled in the emergency medical services certificates and associate of applied science degree programs.

“It was a consideration by the college of ways to extend benefits to firefighters in our programs…I’m sure they’ll see it as a benefit to their careers,” Smith said.

In the fall 2018 semester, the system had about 180 students enrolled in either the fire science technology associate of applied science degree or the basic structural firefighter certification.

System officials said that firefighter students in their program would be exempt from more than $3,000 of tuition and fees, but they would still have to pay their other fees.

jane.stueckemann@chron.com