CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Pierpont Community & Technical College President Doreen Larson is not giving up hope on passing an alternate tuition plan that would allow West Virginia schools to charge by the credit hour, rather than the semester.
Larson has long said that a per-credit charge would greatly benefit the state's nontraditional and part-time college students.
During the regular legislative session when she was faced with skeptics -- who worried the new tuition model would result in substantial increases for full-time students -- she said that those increases were bound to happen anyway.
They did. Last month, the Higher Education Policy Commission approved 5 percent tuition increases for several public colleges and universities. Additionally, many other in-state institutions raised tuition by less than 5 percent, including Pierpont.
The tuition hikes followed a call by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for all public higher education institutions to cut their 2013-14 budgets by 8.9 percent.
"What was frustrating was that they said it was just a back-door tuition hike. I kept saying, 'Do you understand it's going to go up anyhow?'" Larson said. "This was a way to really benefit the most amount of students and correct an inequitable process of charging tuition at our school and others."
"This is what everyone was trying to avoid," she said.
The per-credit-hour tuition proposal, which died in session, would have required full-time students -- those who take at least 12 credit hours per semester -- to pay additionally for any hours past that.
It typically takes 15 credit hours per semester to graduate on time.
In West Virginia, students who take the minimum 12 credit hours are charged the same rate as those who are enrolled for more.
But Larson says the increase for full-time students would have been minor, and the savings for part-time students would have been great.
If passed, Larson said Pierpont would've been able to lower credit-hour tuition rates overall, and said that while full-time students would've seen minor tuition increases, part-time students could save hundreds of dollars over the course of their college careers.
During this fall's semester, a part-time student taking six or fewer credit hours at Pierpont will pay $1,080 -- about $80 more than last year. If the pilot would have been approved, those students would instead pay $960.