A proposed pilot project to charge all state college tuition based on credit hours each student is taking (SB508) may sound innocent enough, but an internal Higher Education Policy Commission memo suggests it could be a major windfall for four-year colleges — and a major hit in the wallet for full-time students.
Currently, full-time students pay per-semester tuition, regardless of if they take 12, 15, 18, or even 21 credit hours.
According to the memo, 76 percent of students at the state's four-year colleges are full-time, ranging from 51 percent of students at Glenville State to 87 percent at West Virginia University.
On average, a student taking 15 hours of classes would pay an additional $1,422 in tuition per semester under the credit-hour tuition plan, while that additional amount would go up to $2,843 for a student taking 18 credit hours.
"This is a sizeable increase which will not be covered by state grant dollars," the memorandum notes.
For four-year colleges, however, it would be a sizeable windfall, estimated at $124.4 million a year for HEPC schools.
Most schools would see revenue increases ranging from $1.8 million to $2.7 million a year, while Concord would see an extra $5.1 million; Shepherd, $7.6 million; Marshall, $15.9 million; and WVU, a whopping $73.8 million. (To their credit, WVU officials have opted out of the proposed pilot project.)
Speaking of, as much as I complained about the lack of any statewide public opinion polling in the 2012 election cycle, kudos to Curtis Wilkerson's Orion Strategies for actually conducting an in-state poll.
One question pertinent to the topic at hand asked those surveyed if they would support converting the Promise Scholarship into a forgivable loan program, with one year of tuition forgiven for each year the scholar remained to work in West Virginia after graduation.
Results: yes, 47 percent; no, 30 percent; undecided, 22 percent.