The Legislature is considering a bill that would create a pilot program and allow participating schools to charge college and university students by the credit hour, as opposed to the current system of a per semester tuition rate.
James Skidmore, West Virginia Chancellor for Community and Technical Education, says the change would make tuition directly reflect classes taken.
“If you’re taking additional hours, then some think a student should pay for those additional hours because they’re actually getting the education,” Skidmore said. He has not yet taken an official stand on the proposal.
Right now in West Virginia, a student is considered a full time college student when he or she takes at least 12 credit hours each semester. State numbers show most students, though, take an average of 15 credit hours each semester to graduate on schedule.
With the pilot program, each credit would come with an individual charge, so a student taking 21 credit hours a semester would pay more for tuition than a student taking 12 credit hours.
According to a higher education report, the change could mean an average tuition increase of $1,400 per semester for students taking 15 credit hours at four year institutions and an average of $300 more per semester for those attending community and technical colleges.
Skidmore says the change would potentially generate millions of additional dollars for many of the institutions that have been forced to make budget cuts because of directives from the state this year.
“There are advantages and disadvantages to it,” Skidmore said of the idea on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline. “It allows us to have some flexibility in delivering our programs, but we’re always concerned when students are paying more money.”
The pilot program legislation, which would require participating schools to meet certain criteria, is now being considered on the Senate floor. SB 508 is scheduled to be taken up on second reading, meaning possible amendments, on Tuesday.