Members of the Senate Finance Committee will next look at the bill that would create a three year pilot project for six colleges and universities in West Virginia.
It would allow those institutions to charge tuition by credit hour.
On Tuesday, the full Senate was scheduled to take up the proposed bill on second reading, the amendment stage, but it was instead sent to the committee Marion County Senator Roman Prezioso, one of the bill’s sponsors, leads.
Pierpont Community and Technical College President Doreen Larson supports the proposal.
She says it would allow her school, a two year school, to implement a tuition rate system that she says makes more sense for Pierpont’s students.
“We’re not looking for a big boondoggle in terms of revenue. We want to get a model that’s the best for our students,” Larson said on Tuesday’s MetroNews Talkline.
She says most of Pierpont’s students are part time students who commute to campus and have jobs and families. Part time students currently pay for each credit hour.
Full time students, those taking at least 12 credit hours each term, pay by semester. The semester cost is the same no matter how many credit hours that full time student takes at Pierpont or other schools in West Virginia.
Larson says what’s happening is that part time students, along with full time students taking the minimum 12 credit hours, are covering the costs of those taking 15, 18 or more class hours each semester.
More hours, she says, translates to an education discount of sorts.
Critics of the proposal claim the pilot project would allow participating higher education institutions, both two year and four year institutions, to make up for this year’s state budget cuts by passing the costs directly to students.
A study from the Higher Education Policy Commission says, with the change to credit hour charges, the average student taking 15 credit hours at four year institutions would see an average tuition increase of $1,400 per semester.
The increase would be an average of $300 more per semester for those attending community and technical colleges.
Larson says, if Pierpont is part of the pilot project, school officials would skip the 5% tuition increase she anticipates all state colleges and universities will be implementing this fall and roll back tuition costs to 2011 levels.
She says such a move should be a requirement of any legislation that gets approval from state lawmakers. “I think there should be an agreement of either a freeze or a rollback or a demonstration of being revenue neutral,” Larson said.
“We’re not trying to backfill fully for the cuts. We’re trying to move to a business model that works for our students.”
Approval from the full Senate would send the bill to the House of Delegates with just more than two weeks left in the 2013 Regular Legislative Session.
Bills have to be out of the chamber where they originated by Wednesday, April 3rd to have a shot at final legislative approval.