Increase in tuition approved by Regents at April meeting

by CHESANIE BRANTLEY/Editor-in-Chief

An increase in tuition being implemented in Fall 2017 was among the many topics discussed during the April meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents.

Dr. Kelvin Sharp, president of SPC, discussed the current calendar of events and considered tuition and fees with the Board.

Dr. Sharp suggested to the Board that an adjustment be made to the current tuition and fees at SPC.

“It times out that we have to consider our registration in April because we open our registration for the fall this month,” said Dr. Sharp. “So, if we are going to make any adjustments to tuition and fees, it has to be done at this point in the year so that we can get our billing correct from the beginning.”

According to Dr. Sharp, SPC is unaware of what could happen to any other funding sources during the summer months, or even next fall. Dr. Sharp explained that he was concerned about the value of the minerals in the tax base in Hockley County, and whether it will generate the same amount of money as it has been.

“Today, at this point, my recommendation is to increase the tuition for some of our students, because I do know that we have some educational objectives in our budget that we need to complete,” explained Dr. Sharp.

Dr. Sharp recommended, and the Board agreed, that tuition for out-of-district and non-resident students be increased $5 per credit hour, effective for the fall of 2016. The main reason is there is some unknowns at this point, and there is a need to balance the budget. Tuition for in-district students will remain at $29 per semester hour. Tuition for out-of-district students will increase from $68 to $73 per semester hour, and tuition for non-resident students will increase from $84 to $89 per semester hour. Tuition for dual-credit students will not be affected. Students fees also will not be increased.

Dr. Robin Satterwhite, president elect of SPC, presented to the Board curriculum changes that will be in effect starting in Fall 2016. He informed the Board that the deletions, revisions, and additions were approved by SPC’s Academic Council. There were 272 changes to the current curriculum overall.

“That sounds like a lot,” said Dr. Satterwhite. “Most of those are to become compliant with the (Texas) Higher Education Coordinating Board.”

Dr. Satterwhite explained that the Higher Education Coordinating Board published an Academic Course Guide Manual for all of the Associate of Science and Arts degrees. They also published a workforce manual. Whenever the Coordinating Board publishes these manuals, there are changes that follow in any college or university’s curriculum to stay compliant.

According to Dr. Satterwhite, there is one other initiative that changes were associated with. He said there is a legislative requirement that there be five programs that are blocked.

“What that means is the Higher Education Coordinating Board, or the Legislature, wants us to have five programs that we can offer to students in a block format,” explained Dr. Satterwhite. “There is a distinct start time, distinct end time throughout the day, and the exact number of days of the week that they will be attending college, and we have to submit to them (the Higher Education Coordinating Board) those programs.”

Dr. Satterwhite explained that those blocked courses that were submitted were Auto Body, Law Enforcement, Fire Academy, Welding, and Surgical Technician. With the block degree programs, there are challenges that students must face if they decide not to complete the program, and will have to be addressed at the discretion of the student.

“The Legislature also required, in this last session, that all community colleges offer a multidisciplinary degree option,” Dr. Satterwhite explained. “So what we have done to meet this legislative requirement is we’re just keeping our same degrees, which is the Associates of Arts, Associates of Science.”

In addition to the 42 hours of coursework in the Associates of Arts degree, for example, there will be a multidisciplinary option. The other 18 hours are left to the discretion of the student.

Cathy Mitchell, vice president for student affairs, discussed the Pathway Initiatives with the Board. The Pathways are set up in order to show high school students and dual-credit students where the credits he or she is taking will transfer in a degree program at SPC.

“We have expanded upon that and developed a spreadsheet, for every one of our area schools that offer dual credit or articulated credit, showing how this fits in, based on the classes that are offered at his or her school,” explained Mitchell.

There is a spreadsheet for every degree that SPC offers and how the dual credit or articulated credit will work into those degrees. Also, the spreadsheet will show how much the high school credits are costing the student, how much it will cost to finish the degree at SPC, and how much the total plan will cost. It then compares those prices to the prices of other colleges and universities. That way the student has all of the information in front of him or her.

Stephen John, vice president for institutional advancement, presented an update on the scholarship program at SPC.

“What I found very interesting was that from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2016, we’ve had a 13.3 percent increase in the amount of scholarships that have been awarded to students,” said John.

He continued to explain that the scholarship funds come in three different categories that are tracked. One is the SPC Foundation awards, the second is SPC Program Scholarships, and the third is the Third Party Outside Scholarships. The money from all three categories is processed and managed through the Scholarship Office.

“We have been able to increase the number of Foundation Scholarship awards by about $225,000, or 42 percent, from fiscal year 2012 to 2016,” explained John.

The Foundation Board met on March 31 and approved a budget to increase the amount that is awarded to $834,000 in scholarships. This is the highest amount that the Foundation has been in  position to award.

According to John, the previous amount for each scholarship that was able to be awarded to each student was $500, but it is now being increased to $1,000. That will reduce the number of students who can be impacted by scholarships, but the goal is to reach out to 900 students by the end of the year to receive a scholarship.

“We just finished closing out the application deadline, on March 1, for students to apply for scholarships for 2016-2017,” explained John. “We had a 30-percent increase in the number of applications that were received through our online application system.”

John said that 1,023 students applied for a scholarship. Of that group, 497 were current students and 526 were incoming students. There was a 66.7-percent increase in the number of current students who applied, and a 7.6-percent increase in the number of incoming students who applied.

Dr. Sharp also suggested that the Board of Regents meeting set on May 12 was moved back to 4 p.m. That way the Board members are able to attend the nurses pinning and the faculty banquet.

Dr. Sharp went through the calendar of events with the Board, including the Texan and Lady Texan Sports Picnic on April 25 at 6 p.m., the Student Awards Assembly on May 5 at 7 p.m., the Retirement Reception at 1:30 p.m. on May 6, tbe Board of Regents meeting at 4 p.m. on May 12, the Employee Recognition Banquet at 6 p.m. on May 12, the ADN Nurses Pinning at 8 p.m. on May 12, and the Commencement Ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on May 13.

“That will be a busy couple of weeks here towards the first part of May,” said Dr. Sharp. “As we (are) preparing for Commencement, it is always a fun time.”

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