CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A bill to allow colleges to test setting tuition at per-credit hour rates is off the fast track, after a senator requested that the bill go to Senate Finance Committee to determine the potential financial impact on students.
"In my part of the world, people struggle to send their kids to community college for two years, and work very hard to send them to Marshall or somewhere for two more years to get their degrees," Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, said of concerns the bill could cause tuition for full-time students to soar.
The bill (SB508), which has been touted as a way for two-year community and technical colleges to cut tuition rates for part-time students, would allow up to six colleges to participate in a pilot project to charge tuition on a per-credit hour basis.
On Friday, Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, waived the bill's assignment to the committee, on the grounds the program would be revenue-neutral to the state.
Chafin, having read news reports that the plan could significantly raise tuition for full-time students -- who currently pay a flat per-semester tuition, regardless of whether they take 12, 15, or 18 credit hours of classes -- asked Tuesday that the bill go to Finance for further study.
During Tuesday afternoon's Finance Committee meeting, Chafin called on Higher Education Policy Commission research analyst Sarah Tucker to discuss the potential impact on full-time students.
Tucker prepared an internal memorandum for HEPC showing that a student taking 15 credit hours a semester would pay an average of $1,422 in additional tuition each year under a per-credit hour rate. For students taking 18 credit hours, that amount would increase to $2,843 a year.
Her memorandum also indicated that per-credit tuition would bring in $124.44 million of additional tuition revenue for four-year colleges in the state, if all colleges participated.
Tucker said Tuesday the per-credit hour tuition would particularly affect Promise scholars, who must complete 30 credit hours of classes per year to keep their scholarships.