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Alamo Colleges lowers tuition for students who live outside Bexar County

A wall of windows with pillars holding banners with the Alamo Colleges symbol in each of the five colleges' colors at the community college system's central office.
Camille Phillips

Alamo Colleges trustees voted Tuesday evening to lower the tuition rate for students who live outside Bexar County.

Starting this fall, students who live in neighboring counties will pay $180 per credit hour instead of $225. The cost per credit hour for Bexar County residents will remain $109.

At a committee meeting the week before the vote, Associate Vice Chancellor Shayne West said the population growth in the surrounding counties represents an opportunity for the Alamo Colleges.

“When you look at the map, and you look and know where our colleges are, they're knocking on our door,” West said. “Especially when you look at Comal County and the growth there, for instance. And they are right next door to Northeast Lakeview [College].”

West said the community college system expected to increase revenue even with the lowered tuition due to higher enrollment. ACD forecasts projected a 5% increase in enrollment next year, which would increase revenue by $3.2 million even with the lower tuition rate.

The Alamo Colleges considers eight counties part of its service area: Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall, Kerr, and Wilson. But all Texas residents who live outside Bexar County will qualify for the $180 credit hour rate.

Trustees also voted Tuesday to lower the non-Texas and international student rate from $476 a credit hour to $327.

Chancellor Mike Flores said Alamo Colleges tested the impact of lowering tuition for their service area four years ago by offering online courses for students outside Bexar County for $180 a credit hour. Students who live in Bexar County pay $109 a credit hour for both online and in-person classes.

“Our intent was to beta test and develop proof of concept,” Flores said, adding that e-rate enrollment almost doubled over the last three years after its tuition rate was lowered.

Another part of the tuition package approved by trustees added special program tuition rates for an additional eight programs to cover the high cost of equipment for those programs and faculty stipends for high-wage / high-demand courses.

Those programs include cybersecurity, cloud computing, dental hygiene, EMT/Paramedic, cardiac sonography, engineering, and power generation and alternative energy, with an additional cost per credit hour ranging from $170 for dental hygiene to $15 for power generation and alternative energy.

Trustees also voted Tuesday to offer forgiveness for outstanding balances to students who are blocked from enrolling in classes because of those balances. They offered forgiveness for up to $600.

During last week’s committee meeting, Associate Vice Chancellor Lisa Mazure told trustees about 7,000 current or former students could benefit from the program, called Fresh Start.

“This initiative is designed so that currently enrolled students can continue enrollment with Alamo, and that stop outs don't become dropouts,” Mazure said. “The last Fresh Start program was for students with balances from 2017 and prior.”

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Education News Desk, including H-E-B Helping Here, Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation and Holly and Alston Beinhorn.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Instagram at camille.m.phillips. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.